Sunday, September 30, 2007

Darjeerling Limited Film Review


This may sound bizarre, but Wes Anderson's new film Darjeerling Limited left me with the same raw empathy that I felt as I finished Joan Didion's book Year of Magical Thinking. His most moving and raw movie to date, Darjeerling Limited is a cinematic meditation about grief, especially the loss of a parent. Each brother (played by Owen Wilson, Adrian Brody and Jason Schwartzman) try to reconcile the meaning of their own lives as they reunite on a train ride through rural India after being frozen by grief after the death of their father.

Although often criticized for filling emotional spaces with gags, jokes and with the right song, Anderson's films actually chronicle how many of his (my)Gen X peers actually "deal" with painful reality. And, I argue that perhaps you have to be Gen X to really "get" Anderson's films and to be on the same emotional inexplicable wavelength as we soundtrack and dramatize our emotional lives. Defined as apathetic, cynical, disaffected and slackers, Generation X has surprised our critics by becoming successful, motivated and innovative and yet we are still catching up emotionally with our own outward success.

Darjeerling is a movie about emotional recovery from devastating loss and literally letting go of your baggage, something that becomes more profound as you reach your mid to late 30s . We each bring our experiences as we watch films, and perhaps grief is an emotion so close to me right now (and a new one at that) that I couldn't be helped from being very affected by this film. Owen Wilson's character Francis is literally held together by bandages after facing his own near-death experience. (Yes, you think about poor Owen's own brush with death throughout the film.)

Tonight at the BAFTA Q&A when asked what the film meant, Anderson responded quoting Harold Pinter about how what you see and what is written speaks for itself and it's not Anderson's job to tell you what the film means and for your to draw your own conclusions. So, I'm going to eat some chicken tikka, burn some incense and meditate on how much I love Wes Anderson movies.

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