Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Darjeeling Limited


I know things aren’t going well when I begin mentally writing my review 30 minutes into the film, and leafing through my mind’s thesaurus seeking synonyms for pretentious, boring, and just plain bad. This is written and directed by Wes Anderson. I liked his The Royal Tenenbaums well enough, and thought Rushmore was very good. Then we rented The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (one of the all-time worst titles) and thought “What the fu-….???” This is another one of those.

Story: Three brothers are on a train in India, seeking spiritual enlightenment. Like so many idiots who go to India, they seem to think they can walk into a temple and order some, like at Starbucks. “I’ll have a double enlightenment, please, in the tall urn, easy on the spirituality.” People seem to think Indians are a particularly spiritual people. Let me hip you to something, my friends. Indians aren’t any more spiritual than anybody else. It’s just that their vast zoo of belief systems is so exotic-looking to Westerners that we feel they must have something special going. Not so. They’re just as fucked up and clueless as we are.

Oldest brother (Owen Wilson) starts every other sentence with “Let’s make an agreement.” Translation: “Here is what {I} want to do, and therefore you want to do it, too.” The other two schlubs go along, as they have all their lives. And that’s about it. If they were amusing I might enjoy watching them, but they’re not. Here’s the kind of people they are: When they are thrown off the train for entirely good reasons (I wouldn’t have }}stopped}} the train before I threw them off), they throw rocks at it. I disliked everything about them, on every level. Here’s just one example. The chances of me liking a man who wears $3000 shoes to the incredible poverty of India are very slim. The chance of me liking a man who tells me his shoes cost $3000 is zero. The only thing that kept me going was the sights and sounds of India, and of the train, which is very nice (much nicer, I suspect, than any real train in India). But I could have gotten that from a travel film, and probably had a more congenial host. And take it from a guy who’s been to India … that is by far the best way to see the place.