Thursday, May 8, 2014

[Review] The Lunchbox

Writer/Director Ritesh Batra delivers this Hindi Film, The Lunchbox, a pen-pal drama in the vein of The Shop Around the Corner and You've got Mail. It's a patiently-building story that's well-told, and it's different enough to fit outside of the romantic comedy genre. It stars newcomer, Nimrat Kaur, and Irrfan Khan (best known to U.S. audiences for the Richard Parker connection between The Amazing Spider-Man and Life of Pi, as well as the police inspector in Slumdog Millionaire).

It starts with Ila (Kaur), an under-appreciated housewife who decides to make an extra spicy meal for her husband at work, in hopes to rekindle their faded relationship. The lunchbox accidentally gets delivered to the wrong person, Sajaan (Khan), an accountant on the verge of retiring. After Ila realizes the lunch went to someone other than her husband, she sends a note in it the following day, and the two begin to secretly communicate through letters.

The Lunchbox is remarkably less schmaltzy than what the premise suggests. It subverts melodrama, and is rather rich with subtle moments. The film refrains from being repetitive, as the two reveal more about their personal lives, and the story unfolds with a bittersweetness that is deeply felt.

The performances are pitch-perfect. Nimrat Kaur exudes an enthusiastic warmth, while Irrfan Khan is stoic and introspective, indicating his emotions through tiny facial expressions. It's a somber tale of two lonely individuals who become each other's muse, interacting in a therapeutic manner and relating their incomplacency. It's also an ode to the power of good food.

The Lunchbox's narrative leads to the question: Do Ila and Sajaan ever meet? Well, you'll just have to see it to find out.


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