Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Apr 1, 2014
    100
    Kaur and Khan, who was robbed of a IIFA nod, scarcely share a frame of The Lunchbox, yet the emotional connection of their characters is palpable.
  2. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Feb 27, 2014
    90
    One thing that makes Lunchbox so strong is that a touch of melancholy hangs over its sweetness. Finally this is a film about the wheel of life, about what helps us cope with its turns and find our way in its unforgiving labyrinth.
  3. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Mar 20, 2014
    88
    The Lunchbox isn’t an example of bravura moviemaking or cutting-edge style but simply a tale told with intelligence, restraint, and respect.
  4. Reviewed by: Mary Houlihan
    Mar 7, 2014
    88
    The Lunchbox,” Indian director Ritesh Batra’s debut, is a witty and perceptive film that reveals the hopes, sorrows and regrets of ordinary people.
  5. 88
    It’s an intimate, quiet and slow-paced romance, a simple, richly rewarding movie in the classic style of India’s greatest filmmaker, the late Satyajit Ray.
  6. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Mar 27, 2014
    83
    A crowd-pleasing import that would leave only the most steadfast curmudgeon unmoved.
  7. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Feb 28, 2014
    83
    The Lunchbox, the debut feature from Indian director Ritesh Batra, has such a sweet premise that I sincerely hope it doesn’t get remade with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
  8. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Apr 18, 2014
    80
    Khan in particularly is wonderful in Batra's film, which takes the time to indulge in quiet moments that Khan expertly fills with his expressive face and sense ease in front of a camera.
  9. Reviewed by: Xan Brooks
    Apr 16, 2014
    80
    The Lunchbox is perfectly handled and beautifully acted; a quiet storm of banked emotions.
  10. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Feb 28, 2014
    80
    The Lunchbox is a first feature for director Ritesh Batra, but it nicely captures the almost overwhelming crush and noise of contemporary India, and it plays cleverly and delicately with the tension of whether its two correspondents might eventually meet. Theirs is one "virtual" romance that has nothing to do with social media.
  11. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Feb 27, 2014
    80
    Wonderfully fresh and affecting fable from India.
  12. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Feb 25, 2014
    80
    Going strictly by plot description, Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox sounds a little like an Indian knock-off of a Nicholas Sparks movie, but it plays out more like Brief Encounter.
  13. Reviewed by: Jay Weissberg
    Jan 20, 2014
    80
    Batra adeptly plays on the tension of will they or won’t they meet, making good decisions based on character and situation rather than the need to uplift an audience.
  14. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Mar 26, 2014
    78
    The Lunchbox offers us a naturalistic glimpse of middle-class life in modern Mumbai.
  15. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Apr 3, 2014
    75
    The debut creation of director Ritesh Batra, it’s a lovely little film from a place where the little things linger.
  16. Reviewed by: Adam Nayman
    Mar 20, 2014
    75
    If co-writer and director Ritesh Batra occasionally takes his sweet time getting from point A to point B, it’s equally true that he gives the audience a nice, comfortable ride.
  17. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Mar 6, 2014
    75
    The Lunchbox is better as an experience than as a memory. When you're watching it, you can still believe it might actually be heading somewhere.
  18. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Feb 27, 2014
    75
    It’s neorealist corn, but it gets to you.
  19. Reviewed by: Nick McCarthy
    Feb 26, 2014
    75
    The patience in mercurially presenting the characters' backstories and desires is matched by the film's genuine curiosity about the healing power of sharing stories.
  20. Reviewed by: Nick McCarthy
    Feb 26, 2014
    75
    The patience in mercurially presenting the characters' backstories and desires is matched by the film's genuine curiosity about the healing power of sharing stories.
  21. Reviewed by: Kevin Jagernauth
    Jan 20, 2014
    75
    Batra's film is ultimately less about love than about the vulnerability relationships place us in emotionally, and courage required to move past pain, and experience life again after we've been hurt.
  22. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Feb 27, 2014
    70
    The comedy is more wry than uproarious, the melodrama gently poignant rather than operatic, and the sentimentality just sweet enough to be satisfying rather than bothersome.
  23. Reviewed by: Jon Frosch
    Feb 25, 2014
    70
    Batra isn't ambitious with the visuals, but he creates an effective, unfussy sense of urban space, both indoor (cramped apartments, crowded buses) and outdoor (even leafy residential streets seem to be swarming with playing children).
  24. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    Jan 20, 2014
    70
    What is most endearing is the delicacy with which writer-director Ritesh Batra reveals the hopes, sorrows, regrets and fears of everyday people without any sign of condescension or narrative trickery.
  25. Reviewed by: William Goss
    Jan 20, 2014
    68
    This long-distance love story is comfort food in any language, perfectly agreeable and unlikely to surprise.
  26. Reviewed by: Ben Kenigsberg
    Feb 26, 2014
    67
    The Lunchbox ultimately registers as a too-hesitant portrayal of hesitancy, and its pleasures are largely incidental.
  27. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Feb 26, 2014
    63
    A clever setup that harkens back to “You’ve Got Mail” and “The Shop Around the Corner” doesn’t quite pay off in India’s warm-hearted comedy-drama The Lunchbox.
  28. Reviewed by: Tom Huddleston
    Apr 9, 2014
    60
    There’s nothing wildly original here, but it’s carried off with charm and wit, and two very enjoyable central performances.
  29. Reviewed by: Matt Maytum
    Apr 7, 2014
    60
    First-time writer/director Ritesh Batra deserves credit for mining gently captivating drama from a pitch that could have just ended with passive-aggressive Post-its left on the office fridge.
User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 27 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. Mar 8, 2014
    10
    Irrfan plays an accountant named Saajan Fernandez, based in Mumbai, who has been working day and night for years on files that now line his desk in hordes. His life is essentially as dry as the pencil lines he draws on paper while managing numbers. Having food from a restaurant during the lunch break; having a cigarette right before getting on the Mumbai local after work; reaching home to packed food from a restaurant, again; and finally smoking one more time before calling it a day - are things that Fernandez's day from the start to finish. Until one day, he gets a lunch box which is not his. A little mix-up leaves him with a lunch box packed with homemade food. One can tell. Nimrat Kaur plays Ila, a housewife and a mother. She cooks scrumptuous dishes that she hope will revive the magic between her husband and her. Only one day she realises the lunch box didn't reach her husband. And, so, begins the ritual of little notes resting atop a pile of 'rotis' in the lunch box. New hope - that holds a secret promise - springs up in both Fernandez's and Ila's lives. What ensues between these two characters is something that can't be given a tag - the relationship is too delicate for that to happen. It's almost as if the movie never ends. You walk out of the movie hall and the film continues with you. How it ends changes with your life experience. The Lunchbox is the best indian movie of the year. A sweet and absorbing drama from start to finish. Full Review »
  2. Jul 13, 2014
    7
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Lovely movie. Two lonely people get to know each other through notes in a lunchbox sent to the wrong office. It was somewhat slow, but that gave it a sweet, contemplative rhythm, and the crowded street and subway scenes in Mumbai were a wonderful contrast to the isolation of the main characters. Best was Irrfan Kahn, a brilliant, soulful actor who lit up the movie with his expressive face. Next best--the Indian food. I loved the notion of a lunchbox from home with a bunch of different homecooked dishes. Wish I could get one of those delivered to me. No sandwiches here. What I hated: the ending. C'mon, the characters should have at least met--maybe not run off together, but the trains passing in the night ending was extremely frustrating. Full Review »
  3. Lyn
    Jul 7, 2014
    7
    I recently watched the last season of 'In Treatment" -- in which one of Gabriel Byrne's tormented patients in therapy is played by Irrfan Khan -- and was struck again by his riveting presence in this film. He is mournful, wry, intelligent, dark, hopeless, hopeful, all conveyed with such subtlety. The touching interactions between his character and the lovely woman who prepares his mistakenly delivered food have a "You've Got Mail" (or "The Shop Around the Corner") quality. Yet they might not lead where you expect. Full Review »