Released in 2007, The Darjeeling Limited is director Wes Anderson's travelogue film. Stars Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman play three brothers who reunite after an estranged year to travel through India. Motives range from a spiritual quest, to escape from life, and to reunite as a family.
"I wonder if the three of us would've been friends in real life. Not as brothers, but as people."
- Jack Whitman
With The Darjeeling Limited, Wes Anderson focuses his auteur's eye on family disfunction and the search for meaning. Frances (Owen Wilson), Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) Whitman are three brothers who meet up for a trip through India. Prior to this, the trio had not spoken since the death of their father a year earlier. And it has been even longer since they've seen their mother. Each is carrying emotional and/or physical baggage that they hope to resolve or find some answers for during their train ride on The Darjeeling Limited.
In some ways, the film is an extension of Anderson's prior movie, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. But where that movie often lagged in focus or purpose, Darjeeling more successfully picks up the themes of family, loss and the search for purpose. Anderson also re-uses much of his stable of actors, this time adding Adrien Brody into the mix. The trio of lead actors are an effective and engaging band, and although their quirks are steeped in typical Anderson-isms, it's much easier here to see through the clever dialogue and embrace the story beneath it. Although Anderson frequently uses the offbeat problems of affluence and privilege for his own humorous purposes, the Whitman brothers are - especially when compared to characters in The Life Aquatic - much more human in their faults and desires.
But just as important is the fact that the movie is funny. Owen Wilson plays a variation on his Dignan character from Bottle Rocket with Frances Whitman, and Jason Schwartzman borrows traits from his "troubled genius" role in Rushmore, while Adrien Brody seems right at the home as the slightly more realistic Peter. The trio fumble their way through India with the help of Frances' personal assistant, Brendan, and eventually meet up with their estranged mother (Angelica Huston). It never becomes too serious so as not to be entertaining, but it's also never so silly that there isn't a story to be explored.