The tag-words 'family' and 'road-trip' should not put you off seeing this movie. Neither should the cast list, often thought of as a mixture of clowns and action men on screen. To miss this film for these or any other reasons would be a great shame.
'The Darjeeling Limited' is not your average movie in so many ways. The premise for it is relatively simple: three brothers embark on a trip of discovery - so nothing new in its theme. But this is not your typical road movie. Their journey ends up being cathartic for each one of the brothers, as the story takes us from the ridiculous to the funny to the tragic, each mood sitting equally well with the viewer. Already the film sounds like a mishmash of genres, unsure of what exactly it is trying to be, and that's probably a fair summation but 'The Darjeeling Limited' is much more than just the sum of its very varied parts.
Francis (Wilson) has had a near-death experience. It causes him to re-evaluate his life and come to the realisation that his family is not what it should be. So he summons his brothers Peter (Brody) and Jack (Schwartzman), telling them that they will all be taking a trip across India together, waffling on about the meaning of life, sorting out priorities and generally freaking out his siblings, who seem utterly unconnected to each other. Their trip begins when they board The Darjeeling Limited train, with their matching luggage, itineraries and a cocktail of local drugs.
Peter, being the one in control of the trip, has hired an assistant to plan each day of their journey, including stop-offs in local markets, temples and amazing desert locations. But brothers will be brothers and pretty scenery isn't likely to cover up all their jealousies, insecurities and neurotic tendencies, as each of them learns a little more about the others and their family as a result.
Although seeming like an unlikely combination, Wilson, Brody and Schwartzman more than do justice to the bickering siblings. Their interactions are cleverly witty when called for, poignant at other times and always convincing throughout. Each performance shows an actor at the top of his game with Wilson veering slightly away from his totally over-the-top comic characters, Brody excelling as the broody one and Schwartzman tackling a role that is oddly charming. His performance opposite Natalie Portman in the short that screens as an introduction to this movie is also very effective at setting the tone of what follows.
In the capable hands of renowned director Wes Anderson, 'The Darjeeling Limited' is pretty much all the things a good movie should be. The scenery is amazing, the acting is second to none and the script is razor-sharp. It's the kind of film that drags you out of your own day-to-day life with a promise of the exotic but later ends up reminding you to be grateful for that same normality.
You will laugh, you might even shed a tear and you definitely should remember this long after the final credits roll. That should be enough of a testament to its worth.