It was in India that Wes Anderson found his home – a pastel-coloured playpen requiring little in the way of add-ons or uniform Adidas tracksuits à la The Royal Tenenbaums. There are styled Louis Vuitton suits, sure, but they’re merely the background to a set bursting with vivid colour. This is an Anderson film shorn of quirk, his most natural movie since Rushmore.
The Darjeeling Limited follows the Whitman brothers – Francis (Owen Wilson), Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) – on a spiritual trip to India a year after their father has died and the family has divided. They’re a trio of screw-ups, full of tacit grief, for obvious reasons, that’s all the more affecting in a bandaged Wilson’s case. The film does lose steam once the boys alight from the train, morphing from a considered ensemble act into a series of overwrought set pieces. But this is sad, funny and touching – substance winning over style.
Essential to the mix is Hotel Chevalier – the short that plays before the main feature – which sees Schwartzman spending fraught moments with his ex (Natalie Portman). With so many of Jack’s gags in the feature stemming from this 12-minute lovers’ tryst, without it his character seems underwritten. Basically, don’t go for the ‘Watch The Film Alone’ option.
Extras-wise, the disc is pretty flimsy, with only a 20-minute, occasionally diverting Making Of – disappointing, considering other DVDs from the director have been double-disc affairs with commentaries, outtakes and interviews. Then again, this is Anderson at his rawest, without the day-glo fish and ‘Look at me!’ eccentricities. Bumph isn’t necessary.