Much smaller in scale than The Life Aquatic, a movie that felt like it was made simply to justify building a really awesome set. Wes Anderson's latest is fine enough though. I enjoyed it. But it sure as hell doesn't come close to the heights of Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums.
For starters, Jason Schwartzman, despite looking awesome in that 'stache just doesn't have the acting chops to pull off a role like this. And Owen Wilson, poor Owen Wilson just can't act. I like the guy. I feel bad for his breakdown and all but man was he not good in this movie. Chris Larry likened his performance to a bad parody of Owen Wilson on Saturday Night Live. I agree.
Only Adrien Brody could pull off the job needed amongst the three. Both he and Schwartzman were both trying to pull off a deadpan melancholy but only Brody could make it work. He was great in a Buster Keaton kind of way - saying a hell of a lot without many words.
And that might be the crux of it. Anderson and his entourage just don't have much to say apparently. Maybe he needs to adapt someone else's work. This is the third straight movie about the same thing. How about a genre piece in the way that the Coen Bros. do it. A Wes Anderson crime flick filtered through Godard's Breathless anyone?
The music felt forced compared to how much it carried his four previous films. I've had enough of slow motion montages set to the Kinks. Yes, they look good but it is the same damn thing everytime!
The movie did have some great moments though. The Wes Anderson universe set on a train was brilliant. The scene of each train car passing by was one of the more captivating moments I've seen all year. I loved a lot of the images of the movie especially the one of Schwartzman leaning out and noticing the Indian woman he fancied also leaning out.
Anderson said he was inspired by the films of Satyajit Ray during the making of this film. I didn't really get that. I get more of an American Francois Truffaut feel to Anderson's vibe. Small films that some deem a bit too precious. However, Truffaut really was able to capture a real emotional resonance with most of his films that I think both of his last two films have mostly failed at achieving. Was Rushmore Anderson's 400 Blows?
Is the Darjeeling short film prologue Hotel Chevalier Anderson's attempt to make an Antoine and Collette? Whatever it is, it was much better than the feature film that follows. It doesn't have much dialogue so Schwartzman's deadpan nature helps rather than hinders the whole thing. And Natalie Portman's extreme hotness doesn't hurt matters either.
And that reminds me of another problem with Darjeeling. Too many men. No major female characters. Anderson does a great job directing and writing parts for women. No dice in Darjeeling though.
Oh yeah, Hotel Chevalier was shot at Hotel Raphael in Paris. Maybe that's why I liked it so much. Download it for free on iTunes!
What did you think?
Directed by Wes Anderson
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