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Heroes of the Zeroes: The Darjeeling Limited

by on March 19, 2010
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Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“The Darjeeling Limited”
Rated R

Only-children certainly could marvel at ruminations about too-rushed life in 2007’s “The Darjeeling Limited,” but having siblings certainly helped.

Arguably Wes Anderson’s most compassionate and mature film, “Darjeeling” danced around a disconcerting what-if: If they weren’t your brothers and sisters, would you voluntarily befriend them, or do you tolerate quirks and annoyances because blood links you?

Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) certainly humor eldest brother Francis (Owen Wilson) by meeting him for an India trip on which they vow to “be open to the unknown” and “say yes even to the shocking and the painful.”

Their brotherly bond has long been buried beneath antagonistic temperaments and, recently, along with their late father (who may or may not appear, depending on your interpretation).

Anderson’s hallmarks are all here — slow-motion sequences, Kinks songs, whiplash camera pans, intrusive close-ups. But this took a vibrantly colored baby step toward the brightness of 2009’s “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.”

“Darjeeling” is alive with India’s bounce and bustle and mournful in regard to its rituals of death. The sudden powerlessness of the latter hits the brothers like a punch to the temple and shows their spiritual journey may not be fruitless after all.

A flashback metaphor suggests we’re always trying to run with parts missing from our past and present to get to our future. You can’t put revelations and rediscoveries on an itinerary, and “Darjeeling” sagely turns its travelogue into an elegy for a parent and all we miss when living life in a constant hurry.