DVD Review by Kam Williams
Headline: This Critic’s #1 Film of 2007 Released on DVD
The Whitman brothers haven’t spoken to each other since their dad died a year ago. This isn’t surprising, given the sibling rivalry which survived well past childhood. The tension emanates from a deep-seated dysfunction which has the eldest, control freak Francis (Owen Wilson), always dominating Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman).
So, of course, it would be Francis who’s orchestrated every detail of their joint sojourn across India in search of spiritual enlightenment, a trek simultaneously designed to function as a bonding opportunity. Each planned port of call has been printed out by Francis’ able assistant, Brendan (Wallace Wolodarsky), on laminated sheets which set out exactly what benefits to expect, thus taking a consumer’s materialistic approach to the contemplated metaphysical experiences.
These brothers’ goal is to settle their differences while traveling across the subcontinent’s desert aboard the Darjeeling Limited, a train outfitted with little in the way of modern amenities. Besides spending quality time with each other, the Whitmans also want to track down their Born Again mother who has changed her name to Sister Patricia (Anjelica Huston) and lives in a convent in the foothills of the Himalayas. They need to know why she refused to attend their father’s funeral.
But getting there is all the fun in The Darjeeling Limited, the latest quirky character-driven dramedy coming courtesy of Wes Anderson. The film is the droll director’s best since Rushmore, and earned the #1 spot on this critic’s Top Ten List of 2007.
It helps immeasurably that Anderson depends on the services of the cinematic equivalent of a theater company, as he enjoys collaborating with a pool of regulars he’s worked with before. This is that rare cerebral comedy which offers sophisticates a refreshing alternative to the brainless bodily-function fare which has come to typify the comedy genre.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity.
Running time: 91 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Deleted scene, a short prequel entitled “Hotel Chevalier” and “The Making of” featurette.