The Lunchbox (Ritesh Batra, 2013)

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sir_luke
Joined: Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:55 pm

The Lunchbox (Ritesh Batra, 2013)

#1 Post by sir_luke » Tue Apr 22, 2014 1:13 am

I was really pleasantly proven wrong by Batra's THE LUNCHBOX. It's the story of a man who, through a mix-up in Mumbai's famous lunchbox delivery service, accidentally receives a delicious meal from a woman who is struggling with her marriage and her living situation. The two begin to write each other notes and eventually form a bond and help each other through their respective difficulties. When I read the summary for this film, I thought it sounded saccharine and feared I was doomed to be disappointed. I saw it last night and feel that, while it could have easily been overly sentimental and inconsequential, it was instead really gracefully done. There was not a dishonest performance in the film, even by the children. While there wasn't anything crazy, there were some very cool editing choices, both visually and aurally. The film is no revolution, but it was certainly refreshing to watch something quiet and honest.
Oh, and don't go hungry.

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LQ
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Re: The Films of 2014

#2 Post by LQ » Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:08 am

I'm happy to hear that appraisal of The Lunchbox. I was almost embarrassed by finding the trailer so appealing because as you say, the summary reads pretty sickly-sweet. I'll have to go tuck into a screening... luckily there's an Indian restaurant a couple doors down from the theater showing it!

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dad1153
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Re: The Films of 2014

#3 Post by dad1153 » Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:00 am

sir_luke, I went to see "The Lunchbox" today solely based on your recommendation, and you're right: the sum total of the movie's many elements (performances, story beats, editing choices, music choices, etc.) is a lot more rewarding than its individual parts, which are strong on their own. I couldn't help but think of the TV show "Lost" as I watched "The Lunchbox." The through line of the movie is the mix-up and the notes, but every deviation to a sidestory, flashback (not necessarily shown but at least narrated) or different story (like the co-worker's personal life) within the movie's simple structure was deeply rewarding and, at times
SpoilerShow
(like Fernandes' recollection of his wife laughing at the same jokes on the old TV shows she taped, a moment that genuinely moved me to tears)
, tremendously moving. I did see the movie hungry though (I'm on a diet, down 15 lbs. since Apr. 1) and now even the cauliflower that Ila's husband is getting made my mouth water, and we don't even get to see it! :P

Nimrat Kaur does good work as Ila (as does the 'Auntie,' if you know what I mean) but it's Irrfan Khan's story and character on whose shoulders "The Lunchbox" shines. Saajan says and does so little, apparently (not a man of too many words/actions), but when he pours it out in a few words it's a thing of beauty. The scene from Citizen Kane when Mr. Bernstein recalls the love of his life he only glimpsed at from a distance is basically retold here (not a spoiler since it's in the trailer), but done in such a way that leaves the audience both wanting more than what we get at the end while also ending at the precise moment it should. I love "The Lunchbox," and frankly I wouldn't have gone seen it without sir_luke's push. Thanks. :)

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: The Lunchbox (Ritesh Batra, 2013)

#4 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:35 pm

Missed our chance to see this -- it came and went too quickly.

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sir_luke
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Re: The Lunchbox (Ritesh Batra, 2013)

#5 Post by sir_luke » Fri May 02, 2014 12:38 am

dad1153 wrote:I love "The Lunchbox," and frankly I wouldn't have gone seen it without sir_luke's push. Thanks. :)
Wow! You're so welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
And I agree with you about the ending. It's not conclusive, and I think that's as it should be. The theme of lost love pervades the film, and that feeling of longing and remoteness doesn't end when the movie does. There's no Hollywood-style tie-up, which is what I feared would happen. However, there IS a change in mood and it seems that there is some kind of fulfillment, a definite emotional resolution, even if the physical situation is never truly mended.
Also, I was similarly pleased by the fluidity of the layered storytelling. Perhaps it's because I've seen several movies recently who handle their subplots rather obnoxiously, but every bit of information in THE LUNCHBOX seemed so naturally and unobtrusively revealed, and no aspect of the story seemed unnecessary. It was as compact and intelligently arranged a film as any I've seen recently.
Anyway, I'm very glad you saw it on my recommendation, and even more thrilled that you enjoyed it so much! It will almost certainly end up on my top ten list for this year.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: The Lunchbox (Ritesh Batra, 2013)

#6 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun May 04, 2014 10:23 pm

As it turns out, this actually stayed over for another week -- so my wife and I got to see it after all. Very glad we did. It was as wonderful as the most glowing reports here reported it to be.
About the end?Show
So -- do our protagonists meet in time or not? At first I thought they probably did. But then I remembered the daughter usually seems to arrive home before the lunchbox gets dropped back off. If our heroine did, in fact, leave as soon as her daughter got home from school, our hero would be about 15 minutes late.

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Cameron Swift
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Re: The Lunchbox (Ritesh Batra, 2013)

#7 Post by Cameron Swift » Sat Nov 15, 2014 1:51 am

Though I may have gotten around to watching it anyway (I've been a fan of Irrfan Khan since The Namesake), I too was pushed towards it by the reviews in this thread. Somebody mentioned on this forum recently, or at least I read it recently, that pleasantness is a virtue often overlooked in films. When I read that, I immediately thought of 84 Charing Cross Road. It's surprising then that the next entry in my 'pleasant' genre viewing would be a film which also involves two people exchanging letters back and forth without ever actually meeting!

Khan is excellent as always in a subdued performance. He does so much through facial expressions in the absence of words. Nimrat Kaur is also strong (and gorgeous) as Ila (the scenes between her and Auntie were genuinely funny), but I wanted also to give some praise to Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Shaikh. I thought the character was going to be obnoxious from the start but I was quickly won over and even developed a fondness for him. Strong acting, some nice transitions between scenes, well chosen music, good food (I also watched this while hungry - my Punjabi mother-in-law doesn't make food that looks this good) and a decent script all amounts to a thoroughly pleasant evening.

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