Eggshell blue, slate gray, maize, and orange gerbera, a hangdog mustache — the opening of the trailer for Darjeeling Limited tells us Wes Anderson’s admiration of washed-out color schemes or outmoded facial hair hasn’t changed in the layoff from 2004’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. All of Anderson’s films have at times seemed cobbled together from stacks of 1970s Polaroids, and Darjeeling is no different — the mystery of Owen Wilson’s battle dressings, as if he’s an infantryman in some sub-Kipling, Gunga Din fantasy, would be just such a mystery if he was seen in a stack of shots gathering dust in the corner of your grandparents’ attic. “Grams, who’s this guy?”
“I want us to become brothers again like we used to be,” Wilson says to Adrien Brody and the mustachioed Jason Schwartzman, which sets up Darjeeling ‘s central theme. But like most of Anderson’s films, it’s pretty clear this one will also have as much familial turmoil as it does meaningful tracking shots, oddball camera angles, and an eccentric, yet wise supporting cast. The leads in Anderson’s films always find peace, but it never arrives the way they expect.
The steam train that runs through Darjeeling in West Bengal, India is the setting for all of this, of course. It’s the basis for the funniest line in the trailer (“How can a train be lost? It’s on rails…”) and will probably also allow for plenty of suggestive shots of train epics past. Who doesn’t love a good close-quarters argument, or even a love scene? Hey! What do you know? There’s Schwartzman and that horrifying mustache making out with a beautiful Indian woman in a sleeper car. The trailer even includes a shot of the three brothers hustling to catch up to the moving train, which pretty much sells the notion that Anderson and co-writers Roman Coppola and Schwartzman have been hoping to make a train movie for quite some time.
That’s okay. At least they didn’t make a movie about William Jennings Bryan campaigning for Free Silver from the back of a locomotive in late-nineteenth century America. Actually, Detour would watch that.