Indian man on a bus: "What are you doing in this place?"
Francis: "Well, the reason I guess we came is we're on a spiritual journey... but that didn't really pan out."
A feature film by writer & director Wes Anderson (his fifth), released 26 October 2007 by Fox Searchlight Pictures. It stars Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody & Jason Schwartzman as 3 estranged brothers on a "spiritual journey" through India following the death of their father.
Like Anderson's previous movies-- Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou-- this is a quirky, deadpan, character-driven tragicomedy. The characters are larger-than-life losers-- memorable, painted in broad strokes, but with huge gaping flaws in their lives & personalities. There's a similar arc to the picture, too: you start out laughing at the main characters purely for their absurdity, then as you learn more about them you slowly begin to laugh because you hate them, then the proverbial "something happens", the characters change their ways a little, and maybe by the denouement you end up laughing because you like them.
Wilson plays Francis, the controlling, over-planning middle brother. Francis spends most of the movie in bandages, having just survived a horrible car wreck, prompting him to organize this paint-by-numbers spiritual quest through India by train.
Schwartzman plays Jack, the youngest brother, a writer, smart but sad, romantic but a little pathetic. He writes short stories that he claims are "purely fictional", but no one believes that. (You see why, later on.) In Anderson's short film Hotel Chevalier, which serves as a prologue to the longer film, Jack's personality is thrown into contrast with that of his ex-girlfriend (played by Natalie Portman). At one point, in bed, she says "Whatever happens, I don't want to lose you as my friend" to which he replies "I promise, I will never be your friend. No matter what. Ever." but in a earnest, neutral sort of way that leaves the audience wondering whether he really means it.
Brody plays Peter, the slightly-distant eldest brother, who seems simultaneously the most broken by the loss of their father and the least willing to confront it. Peter keeps using things from their dad's old luggage without asking, including a pair of oversized sunglasses that he wears throughout the movie.
And, just like Anderson's previous movies, the soundtrack is great. Songs by the Kinks mixed with atmospheric music from Bollywood film scores. The cinematography is excellent, showcasing the crisp and colorful backdrop of India. The side-characters are interesting & sympathetic. Bill Murray makes a cameo.
What more can I say? It's an excellent picture. If you liked Lost in Translation or The Royal Tenenbaums, it's worth watching. While I wouldn't rate this film quite as highly as those two, I think by the end you'll still feel like your life has been slightly enriched by going on the journey with these guys. If only very slightly.
Jack: Wouldn't it sound great if you could hear a train going by in the distance right now?
Peter: Not really.
Francis: It'd probably be annoying.