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bad lunch.

average rating is 3 out of 5


Joe Beck


Posted on:

May 4, 2024

Film Reviews
bad lunch.
Directed by:
Sneha Mendes
Written by:
Sneha Mendes
Brendan Smoller, Dhwani Shah

Most people’s idea of a good lunch involves either peace and quiet while taking a relaxing break away from work or some other exertion in order to set the mind at ease, or, perhaps it involves a hearty meal with friends, family, and loved ones. ‘Bad Lunch.’ demonstrates the opposite, leaning on surrealism, it effectively depicts conflict, though largely fails to amuse as intended.


In its short two minutes, we see two people, a man and a woman played by Brendan Smoller and Dhwani Shah, whose we presume are a couple sit down to eat lunch. The conflict between the two is evident even without the cliched use of one of the most famous pieces of classical music out there. Writer and director Sneha Mendes excellently creates tension immediately from the outset, with a sense of aggression even in how both the man and the woman drag their chairs away from the table to sit down in sync.


We are left to wonder at the source of the conflict between the two as they almost immediately begin aggressively eating their bowls of spaghetti, guzzling it down at a rate that is sure to cause some discomfort afterwards. They each stare each other down as they devour their food, at one point coming close as though reaching for a kiss - almost like ‘Lady and the Tramp’ - before that is abruptly withdrawn and they resume their constant struggle to consume their meals. It’s no wonder that the man nearly chokes on his food, but as he’s saved we’re left to wonder why. What’s the point in this? Is there any point at all?


The commitment to the bit by both actors is admirable, and each of them gives strong performances, conveying their anger at one another believably through both their eyes and the facial contortions of their glitter clad faces. Indeed, throughout, the tension between the pair is strong, due to both the strength of the acting and Sneha Mendes’ directing, which doesn’t take a side in this silent conflict, but nonetheless picks up on every minute flex of anger and frustration.


However, as is often the case with surrealist cinema, you are left wondering why. This isn’t so much a problem when dealing with film by the likes of Luis Bunuel or Salvador Dali - i.e. ‘L’Age D’Or’ or ‘Un Chien Andalou’ - as these films amuse us as much as they intrigue us, and so we need not find some higher purpose. Yet ‘bad lunch’ is not funny, and so, in the space of laughs we wonder why is there this conflict, and what is it all a metaphor for.


Therefore, whilst ‘bad lunch’ is well directed by Sneha Mendes and contains strong performances, it feels wrong to label it a comedy, as the joke is simply in its surrealist nature rather than what we are actually shown, and so it is more an interesting short drama that highlights the talent involved, than something to be watched for laughs.

About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Short Film
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