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Film Review: "The Lunchbox" 

click to enlarge Irrfan Khan in "The Lunchbox."

PHOTO COURTESY SONY PICTURES CLASSICS

Irrfan Khan in "The Lunchbox."

Fate brings a lonely office worker and a young, unhappily married housewife together in an unexpected friendship in writer-director Ritesh Batra's warm-hearted, humanistic fable, "The Lunchbox." Following the old adage that the way to man's heart is through his stomach, Ila (Nimrat Kaur) hopes to reignite her marriage by arranging to have a special lunchbox sent to her husband at his work. By chance, the box is instead delivered to Saajan(Irrfan Khan, "Life of Pi"), a widower on the verge of retirement. Once the mistake is discovered, Ila sends another lunchbox, this time with a note tucked inside, to which Saajan responds. Soon the pair is writing back and forth through letters in the lunchbox, and a bond is formed.

Such a premise might have led down the road of schmaltzy, cloying sentimentality, but instead, as Saajan and Ila's letter become more confessional, opening up about their lives, Batra (making his first feature-length film) offers keen insight into how we define the purpose of our lives. In his hands, this slight, but moving, tale is as pleasurable as dining on your favorite comfort food. Just make sure not to see it on an empty stomach.

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