There's something sublime about an electric blue train cutting through the beige scenery of India. Darjeeling Limited may not be the most profound film you'll ever see, but then again, none of Wes Anderson's films (Rushmore, Royal Tenenbaums) have ever had any form of deep philosophy - but what you can expect is one hell of a ride into his peculiarly funny world - a ride which you won't forget for quite a while.
Where Wes Anderson has sustained himself par excellence is in terms of creating his own characteristic visuals, cinematography and fashion, and as expected, D. Limited is like one long, gorgeous extension of Wes Anderson's "My Life My Card" American Express ad. Unlike most directors who shoot in exotic locales, Wes doesn't capitalize entirely on Indian scenery, but uses it as a mere backdrop and enhances upon it, with his comic book and almost-painted and animated visuals. Each character, no matter how inconsequential to the story (Bill Murray, Kumar Pallana), is sharply etched. His timely techniques grow on you after a while, as do the movie's color palette and the eclectic costumes and accessories (Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs).
Owen Wilson (and his pointless pout) and Adrien Brody perform well, although the script and story itself are adequate to bind your attention. Anjelica Huston is awesome in her short cameo.
The comedy is dry and wry, unique and situational, at the edge of being absolutely eccentric. Silence is a character of its own in this movie, as is the simple sarcasm. Its like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, with less acid and an Indian backdrop. While the movie pokes fun at the stereotypical American belief that one will find "salvation and spirituality" in India, it underscores brilliantly, especially through the usage of sub-characters like Sweet Lime, that at the end of the day, everyone has their own problems.
Note to Desis - do not watch this movie as someone who knows "India" - as its meant to be a visitation. Please don't go ga-ga over irreverent facts (Ooh! Look, its Irrfan Khan) as that is besides the point of the film. India and its lifestyle are both conveyed ever so gently in a movie that uses them as a foundation and builds upon them - a definite first, and its worth repeating.
But to truly love Darjeeling Limited is to love Wes Anderson's way of making movies, because I almost feel that one day we will find a way to link them all together. The way his camera roves. The way his scenes cut. The way he uses the same cliches in every film (the cigarette-smoking woman, drug/medicinal abuse, a constant color in every scene - blue in this case) and creates ironies. You can distinctly tell within a couple of frames that its him behind the wheel (like the BBDO/AT&T commercials which he created, where characters remain constant, and backdrops change).
I love the last scene that traverses different characters in each compartment of the train. Also creditable that he dedicated the film to his inspiration that led him to India in the first place, the legendary Satyajit Ray. While it may not be his best work, DL is a highly enjoyable film by a brilliant filmmaker.