The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Sometimes I lie in bed at night imagining how wonderful it would be to live in Wes Anderson‘s world. In the same way I once yearned for a trip to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, or a slightly less intensive journey through Jurassic Park. Wes Anderson has established himself as, yes, a good filmmaker. He has established himself as a leader in a new generation of individuals who are appreciated at once by the studios, the shareholders, the thinkers, the feelers, and the everymen. But more interestingly then all that, Wes Anderson has established a new reality in which, though perhaps not always connected in story, or character, or setting, his films all reside together. And this reality is fascinating to me. It is not simple, though at times it might appear to be. It is not just a quirk-driven color palette in which one-liners can carry the weight of a eulogy. Because in Wes Anderson’s reality, colorful and quirky as it may be, we can find ourselves. And perhaps this is generational and, as long as you are twenty-something and can name a rundown record store within two or three blocks of your front door you will know what he’s talking about. Perhaps our parents wouldn’t find themselves as easily on a train bound for the spiritual epicenters of India, looking not outwardly, but inward, nuclearly into the broken heart of a family bond. Because this is what lies in the center of The Darjeeling Limited. Three brothers, a train, a mind-numbingly gorgeous country, and a tenuous connection apparently strengthened but left with a question mark. In this land where one must strive to remain self-centered, all three men do so with ardor. And not unironically, while writhing in their own selfishness and self-protection, it is the selfishness of their parents with which they can all identify and find one another.

But back to my original point: There’s an aesthetic here that Anderson is comfortable with. It’s bright and sunny, it thrives on symmetry, it comes with one helluva a soundtrack and it’s for these reasons that one might feel his films could be one-sided. At face value they are…at face value. What sets him apart and what gives him longevity is the fact that, in these realities, not everything is good. In these realities a character intially pegged as comic relief comes to reveal a deep and calloused insecurity. A snide and uncaring father with a penchant for superiority discovers his shortcomings and reevaluates just in time to save himself, and his family. And for our purposes, three brothers whose relationship to one another is riddled with a farcical give and take of sharing, witholding, tattling and exposition find something in the midst of their bizarre triumvirate. So yes, this is a reality I’d like to take part in. At least for a few days. I’d like to exist in the midst of technicolor landscapes and smart one-liners, but further than that, I’d like to exist in a place that established a balance, because without the balance, without the maturity, it really is just a pair of checkered Vans, or a VW commercial, or a set of acrylics painting a Shins album.

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