Sunday, April 6, 2014

Someone to Tell Things To

After a busy day trapped inside and working, all I wanted was a little romance.

I got that and a whole lot more by going to the Westhampton to see "The Lunchbox," a film I'd seen previews for last week.

Seems I hadn't taken into consideration that the only people who go to a 9:30 movie on a Saturday night are couples. Everyone else was getting two tickets and a large popcorn to share while my small popcorn and I found a seat in the front row away from them all.

"What do we live for?' is the crux of the movie and after a wife's lovingly made lunches keep getting mistakenly delivered to a lonely widower ("I think we forget things if we have no one to tell them to") instead of her inattentive husband, it starts to become clear that they're living for the connection they feel through the daily notes they pass back and forth in the lunchbox.

After years of eating a food shop's lunches, he's enamored of her creatively prepared homemade spreads, concurring with an eager beaver coworker that "you need magic in the hands to make great food." I'm inclined to agree with that since there's no magic in my own.

The wife discusses her concerns about her marriage and the misdirected lunches with her unseen "Auntie" who lives upstairs and who sends down ingredients via a basket on a piece of rope, just the way I saw women do when I was in Italy. It's a perfectly charming method of conveyance.

Somehow life in Mumbai, whether the overcrowded trains with people hanging out every door and window or the claustrophobic cubicles full of paper pushers (ledgers, even) manage to become a meditation on loneliness in the land of overpopulation, where even burials are vertical due to lack of room.

And once the wife realizes that her husband is cheating on her, she begins to pour out her heart to this stranger, sharing dreams and memories, and he does the same.

Her young daughter comes home from school telling her of a place where there is no gross national product, just gross national happiness, making it sound like the ideal place to escape to.

As the relationship deepens through the handwritten notes -only one a day - the audience is reminded that connections used to be forged on a much more gradual basis before the advent of e-mail and texting.

Gradually both of them come to the same conclusion: sometimes the wrong train will get you to the right station.

That could be a metaphor for my entire life.

Best of all, the first-time director provides no clear cut ending, just the merest suggestion that these two people are still gradually moving toward each other.

Whether or not they end up together for the long haul remains to be seen. Just like in real life.

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