A family that prays together, stays together: this is probably the very first thought that entered my head as I was watching the film The Darjeeling Limited. This film made a pure mess on family ties and searching for something lost. Besides searching for deeper meaning in the film, there were some things I could not personally understand – and let me digress:
For the typical Filipino family, family means everything. For me, is is more weighted down by the fact that I come from a chinese-filipino family. For us Filipinos, family ties are everything, beginning from the way we look, the way our habits are adjusted, the way we live our lives, and the way we so closely know each other even after years and years of separation.
But for this little western family, ties were broken, and people did not even want to see the funeral of their own father. Even from the surface level of observation, the three brothers (which I didn’t know they were until further along the story) didn’t look like each other at all: one was bruised and bandaged, the other was a tall-dark-handsome man, and the other looked like a short mexican with long hair. Besides this, they were nothing alike, in profession, and in attitude. Nobody would think they were brothers if it was not stated in the story.
There are too much to talk about in this movie, yet I particularly want to focus on the brother’s disputes. it seemed to me that all three of them have their own personal problems and problems with each other. They couldn’t even trust each other – a thing that Francis, the eldest, wanted to change (but by being the bossy one? Oh, wait, he was the eldest, but their personalities were exaggerated to emphasize their quirks). Francis was the rich one, but couldn’t stand Peter’s taking their dad’s things even if he obviously didn’t need it. Peter, on the other hand was the more normal one but had his own problem about starting his own family. Jack, was a writer who just wanted to get away from it all, and that included his brother’s constant “dinadamay siya” and bossy attitude.
Seeing the brothers struggling with each other and dealing with their problems was an interesting sight to behold. Not only was the trip a big fat lie, but it was a big truth as well. It was strange that they were fooled to take a trip to India to see a mother they didn’t want to see. But more than that, it really was a spiritual journey for them, a journey of trust and letting go of past conflicts. I especially loved the voyage on the train, where they brought a poisonous snake (which totally did not make sense to me, but was hilarious when they got kicked out several events after that).
What did it all mean? I mean Francis’ injury, Peter’s upcoming fatherhood, and Jack’s escapism? I don’t even think they solved any of those problems in the end. What they did gain, though, is a reason to end their unwillingness to take the trip. For whatever made them realize that their trip was worth more time in India that they originally planned, I do not know. Throwing away their father’s bags in the end though, was most probably a tell-tale sign that they still wanted to move, not back to old times, but forward, and together. (as is with the scene where all of the characters were flashed in different carriages but in their own settings: a symbolic going on with their lives)
Another thing that intrigued me, that would most probably segway into part 2 of my entry, is Jack’s knack for writing personal experiences. The last story he mentioned, if anyone noticed, was his time in Paris with his ex-girlfriend. This probably set the tome for Jack’s story, as well as a prelude to the crazy world of all three bothers.
“if i fuck you now, i’ll feel like shit tomorrow”
I loved that line, because it made so much sense, yet strangely, it did make sense. Their relationship was so screwed up that they didn’t want to see each other, but they wanted to see each other. There was no closure between them, and they couldn’t be friends. Jack didn’t care at all, and those dumbfounded comments were simply messed up. More is less, as they say, and this short film definitely lived up to expectation of creating more confusion with less words and actions. I think, though, that The Darjeeling Limited could have been watched without the aid of Hotel Chevalier, yet the short prelude gave a little bit more color and background to the conflicts of it’s longer sequel.
The last thing I want to talk about is the cleverness of the titles of the films. for Hotel Chevalier, according to my knowledge, Chevalier means guardian – which reflected on Jack’s attitude toward getting away from the world. As for the Darjeeling Limited which was the name of the train, the trip of the three brothers in the train was certainly limited, but expanded as they were kicked out. A seemingly Limited trip turned into an end of motorcycling through India. Brilliant work. I especially enjoyed watching this film.