Before I flew off to Europe last week, I made my way down to the Fox lot to see The Darjeeling Limited, the new Wes Anderson film. I can’t say much about it now (although I will say that India complements Anderson’s visual style perfectly, while also adding a messy and chaotic aspect that he rarely allows into his films), but I wanted to touch on the fact that the version I saw isn’t like the version you’ll see. My screening included Hotel Chevalier, a short film that touches on the history of one of the film’s main characters.
In Hotel Chevalier, Jason Schwartzman’s Jack is living in a hotel in Paris when he gets a sudden phone call: his ex, played by Natalie Portman, is in town and on her way over. The film is very much a vignette, with many of the elements of these characters and their relationships presented between the lines. There’s a gag from the short film that gets a callback in the main feature, and Portman’s character appears in a quick moment towards the end of the movie, but I guess you could see the film divorced from the short. I’m just not sure why you would, since the short gives a tiny bit of depth to some of what’s going on in the main movie, and it’s also a delightful few minutes of filmmaking. Also, you see Natalie Portman’s butt, and later on she’s standing naked just covering the good bits. This seems like something that could add to the marketing of the film.
There’s no concrete plan for what will happen with Hotel Chevalier; in a statement handed out to the press before the screening, Wes Anderson says that he’d like everyone who sees Darjeeling Limited to see Hotel Chevalier, and that it may end up online. I liked it as the quiet lead in to the movie, though, and it’s nice to get a little bit extra on top of the main feature. It’s probably too late to convince Fox Searchlight to change their mind, but I think Darjeeling Limited would work better with Hotel Chevalier attached.