The Lunchbox (2014)



Critic Consensus: Warm, affectionate, and sweet but not cloying, The Lunchbox is a clever crowd-pleaser from first-time director Ritesh Batra.

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Movie Info

Middle class housewife Ila is trying once again to add some spice to her marriage, this time through her cooking. She desperately hopes that this new recipe will finally arouse some kind of reaction from her neglectful husband. She prepares a special lunchbox to be delivered to him at work, but, unbeknownst to her, it is mistakenly delivered to another office worker, Saajan, a lonely man on the verge of retirement. Curious about the lack of reaction from her husband, Ila puts a little note in the following day's lunchbox, in the hopes of getting to the bottom of the mystery. This begins a series of lunchbox notes between Saajan and Ila, and the mere comfort of communicating with a stranger anonymously soon evolves into an unexpected friendship. Gradually, their notes become little confessions about their loneliness, memories, regrets, fears, and even small joys. They each discover a new sense of self and find an anchor to hold on to in the big city of Mumbai that so often crushes hopes and dreams. Still strangers physically, Ila and Saajan become lost in a virtual relationship that could jeopardize both their realities. (C) Sony Classics
PG (for thematic material and smoking)
Drama , Romance
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Irrfan Khan
as Saajan Fernandes
Bharati Achrekar
as Mrs. Deshpande
Denzil Smith
as Mr. Shroff
Bharati Achreker
as Mrs. Deshpande
Nakul Vaid
as Rajeev
Lillete Dubey
as Ila's Mother
Shruti Bapna
as Mehrunnisa
Akash Sinha
as Himself
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News & Interviews for The Lunchbox

Critic Reviews for The Lunchbox

All Critics (96) | Top Critics (26)

There's nothing wildly original here, but it's carried off with charm and wit, and a pair of very enjoyable central performances.

Full Review… | April 8, 2014
Time Out
Top Critic

A lovely little film from a place where the little things linger.

Full Review… | April 3, 2014
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

"The Lunchbox" doesn't offer easy solutions, but it is filled with keen observations. All meals should be this satisfying.

Full Review… | March 27, 2014
Detroit News
Top Critic

A pleasure, from the fascinating intricacies of Mumbai-style interlocking lunch containers to the quietly masterful performance of Khan.

March 27, 2014
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Warm, and warmly predictable.

Full Review… | March 27, 2014
Top Critic

"The Lunchbox" is a feast of delights, one of the best stories about the connection between food and love the movies have ever seen.

Full Review… | March 27, 2014
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Lunchbox


A warm, melancholy drama that enchants and moves us even more thanks to the way that its three-dimensional characters reveal so much about themselves between the lines - and it is only a pity, though, that it drags a bit in the third act and ends in a rather frustrating conclusion.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


A neglected housewife starts a correspondence with a widowed accountant nearing retirement when he is mistakenly delivered the special lunch she made to impress her distant husband. More interesting to Westerners for its peek at the lives and customs of average residents of modern day Mumbai than it is for its ordinary (though well-acted) drama. If this story was set in (say) Seattle, it would be a hopeless bore.

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer


For a movie that relies heavily on the seductive qualities of food, The Lunchbox rarely dwells on the culinary delights prepared. It's hard not to think the filmmakers missed a golden opportunity to seduce the audience with the wonders of Indian cuisine. After all, in this parable food speaks louder than words ever could. What we do get is a nice romance that unfolds in a very delicate and deliberate manner. Ila is melancholy but radiant. Saajan is a stoic sourpuss. Both mature as a result of knowing each other. There's real drama in their interaction. At times it's so subtle and precious, we have to fill in the blanks as to what people are feeling. This translates into what they ultimately do. I won't spoil the conclusion, but it's as if the screenwriters think a tidy resolution is too predictable. Still, there's a lot to love, particularly the sensitive relationship that evolves among the principals. It's just that the desultory ending is a serious letdown after such a promising buildup. I found it frustratingly unsatisfying. The finish left me hungry for more.

Mark Hobin
Mark Hobin

Super Reviewer

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