“Sometimes brakes break for a reason.” The Hundred-Foot Journey
“Sometimes, the wrong train will get you to the right station.” The Lunchbox
I recently saw Lasse Hallström‘s The Hundred-Foot Journey, an enjoyable and moving (yet slight) film.
And some aspects of it happen to be quite reminiscent of another movie I saw just months ago. Like The Hundred-Foot Journey, writer/director Ritesh Batra‘s The Lunchbox (available on DVD now) has, among other similarities, a theme involving happenstance along life’s literal and metaphorical journeys (see above).
Each also each strongly features Indian culture and food.
Although The Lunchbox has received somewhat higher praise from critics and consumers alike, both have been well appreciated and—I have to say it—easily digested.
Another important facet in common is the simplicity of each story, better revealed as you watch and not so much beforehand.
Mick Lasalle, San Francisco Chronicle, sets up the plot of the more current release:
‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ is about an Indian family that relocates to Europe with the intention of opening an Indian restaurant somewhere on the continent. Their car breaks down in rural France, and the patriarch (Om Puri) falls in love with a property that happens to be across the street from a Michelin starred restaurant. Despite the exalted competition just one hundred feet away, he decides to locate his new restaurant there, which puts him into contact with the Michelin restaurant’s stiff-backed owner, played by Helen Mirren.
“By the time ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ ends,” states Lasalle, “it has achieved an unexpected and rather powerful cumulative impact. I felt like I knew the people and wouldn’t mind staying there.”
Steven Rea, philly.com, lays out the basics of The Lunchbox plot:
Ila (the excellent Nimrat Kaur) is married to a man who is wholly uninterested and disengaged. With encouragement from ‘Auntie,’ an upstairs neighbor we only hear, never see, Ila begins preparing elaborate lunches – you know the old saw, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. But by mistake, the dabba is delivered to Saajan (Irrfan Khan), a sad-eyed widower, an accountant at a big firm. He is surprised by his meal, and doubly surprised when another delicious lunch shows up the next day – with a note from Ila, wondering why her husband hadn’t said anything about his repast.
Saajan writes back, and so a relationship is born – the loveless woman and the man whose love has gone from his life, sharing increasingly intimate thoughts, anonymously, day after day, amazing meal after amazing meal.
Rea concludes that The Lunchbox is “an epistolary love story, a celebration of food, and a query about connection, synchronicity, fate, and chance.”
Xan Brooks, The Guardian: “Already a huge success in its native India, Ritesh Batra’s Mumbai-set romance arranges a tender marriage of Brief Encounter with Ernst Lubitsch’s The Shop Around the Corner.”
After you watch this trailer, maybe you’ll consider seeing at least one of these two enchanting movies: