March 12, 2014

Movie Review: The Lunchbox *****

The Lunchbox is a wondrous film filled with sweetness, passion and emotion. It's about Ila, a beautiful young Indian woman who prepares gourmet food to send to her husband, an office worker, hoping the food will magically heal their distant relationship. She is guided in preparation by her upstairs neighbor, whom we never see but who shouts directions down to her and sends various ingredients via a basket that she lowers through the window. It's a cute device.
A service picks up the lunchboxes from all the wives in town and delivers them to the company, distributing them to each man at his desk. Ila's lunchbox, somehow, goes to the wrong man. While her husband eats cauliflower every day (giving him gas, he says), an unknown man quite happily eats Ila's gourmet meals (you will want to go out for Indian food after seeing this movie).
Ila quickly understands that it's not her husband who's devoured the contents of the lunchbox - since it is nearly licked clean. So she puts a note in the next one. Soon, Ila and Saajan, a windower, become pen pals of sorts. As the communication grows, so do their feelings.
The actress who plays Ila (Nimrat Kaur) is luminous on screen, and Saajan is played by Irrfan Khan, one of my favorite actors. You might know his face - he was in Life of Pi and Slumdog Millionaire among numerous other films.
The theme of this movie reminds me of Her, in that both films are about our need for connections, and how we find them in surprising ways.
Incidentally, the lunchbox itself is an ingenious and convenient contraption; it's made up of metal cylinders that nest together to form a tower of food bowls, and it's held together with a device that unsnaps at the top. Very cool.
For those of you who don't like movies with subtitles, I have to tell you that you are missing out. Try it with this one. After a few minutes you won't even notice you're reading, and the pay-off is great. Foreign films are so much less commercial than American films (generally speaking) and have so much more heart.
Five out of five stars for The Lunchbox.

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