Richard Corliss Darjeeling Limited Venice Film Festival Blast #2 (i.e., about the continuing Wes Anderson poised-attitude problem that dogs it): “Picaresque movies often feel longer than they are. For them to work, they need an interior spring with more thrust than Darjeeling Limited‘s attempt at reconstituted brotherhood. The problem is in Anderson’s approach, which is so super-cool, it’s chilly.
“In his elaborate visual construct, virtually every shot is followed by with the camera point-of-view shifted 90 or 180 degrees — which is geometrically groovy, no question, but pretty quickly predictable. Same goes for his stories, which rely on gifted people behaving goofily. Anderson has the attitude for comedy, but not the aptitude. His films are museum artifacts of what someone thought could be funny. They’re airless. Movies under glass.
“[Owen] Wilson has appeared in all five of Anderson’s feature films (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and the new one) and co-wrote the first three — the ones I prefer in the the director’s oeuvre. The Darjeeling script is by Anderson, Schwartzman and Roman Coppola (Francis’ son, Sofia’s brother) and it doesn’t add luster to anyone’s reputation.
“The Darjeeling program includes a related 13-min. film, Hotel Chevalier. Schwartzman’s Jack seems uneasy when he gets a call from an ex-girlfriend (Natalie Portman) who insists on showing up in his swank hotel room. He draws a bubble bath for her. They flirt and parry and wind up in bed, exchanging dialogue that we hear again, at the end of Darjeeling, as part of a story Jack has written.
“It’s a beguiling vignette that, as Closer and My Blueberry Nights did, shows Portman as a comic actress in fresh bloom. I wish that she, and some of the feeling and wit of the short film, had been in the long one.”