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Author Topic: Movie: The Darjeeling Limited
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posted 08 October 2007 06:19 AM      Profile for bigcitygal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I read the review of this movie in Now Magazine, by John Harkness, my least favourite Now movie reviewer. He gave it 3 NNNs, but disliked the "adult male as teenaged boy" theme.

The Darjeeling Limited, on the other hand, offers a trio of privileged, dolorous boy-men who drag themselves through life and, in this film, across India. A year after their father's death, the eldest, Francis (Owen Wilson), invites his brothers, and their symbolically freighted matched luggage, to join him on a spiritual quest.

The characters' dilemmas are improbable. Middle brother Peter (Adrien Brody) has abandoned his very pregnant partner without telling her where he's going, and youngest brother Jack (co-scenarist Jason Schwartzman) compulsively calls his ex-girlfriend's answering machine to check her messages.

Anderson has been almost fatally infected by J. D. Salinger's writing. The Royal Tenenbaums, the portrait of an eccentric and artistic family of upper-crust New Yorkers, was probably as close as he could come to Salinger's Glass family stories without violating intellectual property laws.

The three protagonists in The Darjeeling Limited are all Holden Caulfield at different ages.


His characters, alas, are trapped in adolescent angst, and I can't help but think that once you're into your 30s, you should grow up.

It's an angst of affluence, about characters who, without apparent economic repercussions, abandon their daily lives on a whim. Like Sofia Coppola, Anderson longs for a kind of upper-class indolence. You can see it in Darjeeling's magnificent 11-piece set of bags, designed by Mark Jacobs, that harkens back to a day when people stepped off the Orient Express in Istanbul with gigantic suitcases carried by servants and porters.

And, yes, the luggage – their father's, divided among the three sons – overtly symbolizes baggage of the emotional sort. When the boys shed it at the end, it's a symbolic gesture the film hasn't earned. They don't seem to have cast off their past. They're just hoping someone will pick up their bags and forward them.

Full review here

Reading between the lines of the review it's a simple task to find the racist text of the film. Then I found this commentary from the blog Shameless, written by Thea:

Before I identified as a woman of colour and started applying anti-oppression criticism to every inch of pop culture I could get my hands on, I loved Wes Anderson. But in my grand old age, I can’t excuse the racist caricatures that populate all of his movies.

Like Pagoda, the cute little Indian man in the Royal Tenenbaums (who also appears in Bottle Rocket and Rushmore) who exists solely to do Royal’s bidding, and has an adorable lack of morality. Or the slew of characters of colour - the Brazilian David Bowie (played by Seu Jorge who actually has quite an illustrious film and recording career); Vikram Ray, whose character’s main feature is that he was “born on the Ganges”; the Filipino pirates - in The Life Aquatic.

Characters of colour in Anderson’s films are always caricatures, hilariously exotic. Anderson uses “race as a novelty”, says, “suggesting an assertively white-kid view of the world.”

These characters are funny not because of their personalities or life situations - unlike Anderson’s white characters - but solely because they’re brown. It’s like Anderson is saying, “The pirates are Filipino! How hilarious is that??” Needless to say, I don’t get the joke.

As if that isn’t bad enough, Anderson also uses Asian cultures to demonstrate just how educated and well-travelled he is. It’s like the movie equivalent of “Some of my best friends are Laotian” and “I went backpacking in Vietnam.” The master of in-joke filmmaking, Anderson’s brown characters are like an inside joke for urban hipsters who’ve visited Little India a few times.

Full article here

Just to be clear, neither the author of the article, nor I have seen the film. Thea's are comments are based on her review of Wes Anderson's past films and what she knows of the plot of this one.

From: It's difficult to work in a group when you're omnipotent - Q | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged

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