The Lunchbox: Movie Review
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Director: Ritesh Batra
It's to the crowded streets of Mumbai we go for this latest, which charmed audiences at the New Zealand International Film Festival.
Kaur stars as Ila, an isolated wife who dutifully believes the way to her distant husband's heart is through his stomach. So, every day, she prepares a lunchbox which is duly shipped to his work for him to savour and enjoy.
But, the lunchbox ends up going to the wrong place and lands on the desk of soon-to-be-retired and widowed claims worker Saajan (Life of Pi star Khan) who's entranced by the flavours within. (He believes it's from a lunch delivery firm he's signed up to).
The pair begin sending notes to each other as each collectively reach the end of the road of their current life incarnation.
Melancholy and sad, The Lunchbox is a reserved romantic drama that pierces the pungent food preparation with occasional laughs and maudlin moments.
Never has so much been said by leads who deliver so little vocally; Khan himself is a masterclass in restrained body language, with his precise routine and concise movements conveying all the sadness you need. Kaur is initially a little more lively, cooking with the help of an unseen but vocal auntie who lives above them - but gradually, the sadness imbues her nuanced performance with a heart that's hard to deny in places.
As the story unfolds slowly, the layers peel back and the characters gradually come to life as the counselling letters fire back and forth within the chapatis and cooked offerings. The sad and reflective tone thrives on the subtlety of the actors and Batra's concentrated direction; the juxtaposition of Mumbai's bustling streets a stark contrast to the alienation of this duo.
There's a heart to this which will easily find an audience, ready to drown in the romance and the optimism that a few simple moments can make a lifetime's difference to anyone.
Quite simply, this Lunchbox is to be devoured and savoured.