This isn’t a review of The Lunchbox. I liked it and I’m drinking wine, so I want to talk.
Back in June, my exbf moved to Amherst (MA), which has a good art film theater. He suggested we go there, so I looked at what was playing, and I thought The Lunchbox was totally my jam. I told him what it was about, and he acted like it was totally bizarre, and that I was weird for wanting to see it. I’ve wanted to see it since then, so I finally did last night as I snuggled my cat, didn’t drink, and didn’t get any.
So the story is this: It takes place in Mumbai. Ila is married to an emotionally unavailable douchebag, and she’s trying to get to her husband’s heart through his stomach by taking her Auntie’s cooking advice. She packs his lunch (which looks so yum omg) every day, and it’s picked up to be delivered to his job. One day, the lunchbox comes back empty, and she’s sadly excited about it..but quickly realizes that he wasn’t the one who ate it. It’s been sent to the wrong person, and she starts a a relationship by correspondence with him (“him” being Saajan, a lonely and socially awkward widower who is a month away from early retirement). Their letters become increasingly intimate–not sexually–and she finally suggests that they meet. I don’t want to be an asshole about spoilers, so I’ll leave it there.
It’s not a profound or life-changing movie (it’s sweet), but it is EXTREMELY well acted and directed.
The central theme of the movie is “sometimes the wrong train will get you to the right station,” which I hope to God is true, because that’s my life right now.
That’s not even the thing that’s so special about the movie, though. What i loved was how well the director developed the relationships among the people other than Ila and Saajan. Saajan and Shaikh’s relationship is particularly beautiful, but I found the most poignant to be that of Ila and her Auntie (who is never seen, because she is tending to Uncle, who is pretty much in a vegetative state). Auntie lives above Ila, and she communicates by hollering down cooking and life advice, playing music, and sending down spices/peppers in a basket. She is unseen, trapped, and benevolent.
The thing that struck me as the most intelligent thing about this character-based movie (which is my favorite kind) is the fact that every single character has an absolutely heartrending, how-do-they-function, backstory. Ila is lonely and neglected by her husband. Saajan is crabby to kids, but he lost his wife; his lunchbox supposedly came through a paid service. Saikh is a total (hot) con artist, but he’s also an orphan who was rejected by the family of his true love. Ila’s mom was in a miserable marriage; when her husband dies, she can only think about her food cravings (because she’s reached the saturation point regarding pain, or because she’s relieved?). I don’t think it’s over-the-head…I think it’s just about right, because everyone has a tragedy, and it’s really not hidden all that far below the surface.
I found myself completely romanticizing Ila’s lot. I would love to have either of my aunts living above me (except when I bring a guy home, I guess), and occasionally I feel like I could fall in line with a traditional marriage if the guy was hot enough.
So there’s my glowing, wine-soaked endorsement of The Lunchbox. ❤