Cases of mistaken identity can certainly advance a plot, but rarely do these artificially imposed manipulative elements create an organic or believable situation that approximates the randomness of daily life. But when skillfully employed, as in the case of writer-director Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox, such a silly contrivance can recall the everlasting reflective hold of the literary example as well.
Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan), a widower on the verge of retiring after a long career working in the claims department of an unnamed firm in Mumbai, finds himself on the receiving end of a lunchbox, specially prepared by an unhappy wife (Nimrat Kaur) who discovers that her husband is cheating on her. The two share this stolen mealtime together and eventually the secrets of their lives, but can this provide the basis for them to move forward together? Khan, in particular, shines, seemingly from deep within, as he dares to allow the sensual pleasures of these meals to awaken his long-buried dreams for the rest of his days. A hearty emotional feast for all of the senses. Opens April 4 at Mariemont Theatre. (PG) Grade: A