This movie came out when I was still pretty in love with Wes Anderson but, for some reason, I didn’t watch at the time. And then a decade passed and I watched it on a plane three weeks ago.
Like basically every Wes Anderson film, this feels kind of effortlessly entertaining despite, or, really, because of the obsessive attention to detail in the set design and soundtrack. Despite my evolving feelings towards his films, one thing I can say for Wes Anderson is I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a film he’s made that didn’t entertain me on some basic level. We must share a sense of humour because even his slighter films – such as this one – I find enjoyable.
This film, though, is a little more complicated for me than his earlier films. On the one hand, I find it amusing and entertaining, as I always do. And, like most of his films, I find the moments of (affected) pathos compelling.
On the other hand, the older I get the more I find Anderson’s affect not only noticeable but a defining feature of his work. Every single Wes Anderson film feels so much like a Wes Anderson film, he’s like a person who deliberately talks different and you can’t really figure out why. (And if you did, the reason wouldn’t be satisfactory.) Moreover, this film, about three privileged ne-er-do-well brothers trying to find themselves and their relationship in India absolutely reeks of self-parody. If you were going to make a parody of a Wes Anderson film, you might have written this plot about three brothers on a train in a very imagined India.
It’s a testament to Anderson’s ability as a filmmaker, and the leads’ performances, that the film still works and is as enjoyable as it is. I feel like I had a legitimate criticism of the film and liked it less when I watched it, but three weeks later my memories are fond despite how unrealistic the whole thing is. (I mean, it’s Wes Anderson….)