“Puzzle”–movie review–must see   Leave a comment

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The movie opens with Agnes (Kelly Macdonald) vacuuming the floors, setting the table, making food trays, baking a cake, hanging a Happy Birthday sign and placing balloons around the house and leads into a party scene with her coming out with the cake with candles and everybody singing “Happy Birthday”–to her! She is not only the birthday woman but the maid, caterer, hostess, wife, mother, housekeeper and, it turns out, fast at putting jigsaw puzzles together.
One of her birthday gifts is a jigsaw puzzle and when she eventually sits down to work she is surprised at how quick she can work it out and decides to buy another one and finds out about a store in New York City that majors in selling jigsaw puzzles. Agnes travels in from her Connecticut home starting a journey on discovering herself as a person.
Along the way we meet Robert (Irrfan Khan), a millionaire inventor who lives in a beautiful home, impersonally furnished, in Manhattan whose wife left him, and he is looking for a partner to enter puzzle competitions.
Agnes has a loving husband, Louie, (David Denman), a domineering man who loves his wife and kids but expects them to wait on him hand and foot. They have two sons Gabe (Austin Abrams) who wants to take a year off before going to college and Ziggy (Bubba Weiler) who is expected to work in his father’s garage but who wants to be a cook.
“Puzzle” is a gem of a movie, an independant film, showing a character who grows right before our eyes starting off slowly in slow increments and watch her take small steps before taking large ones.  Kelly Macdonald embodies that growth involving us with her own surprises at who she really is underneath the meek, church going, obedient wife and mother presented at the opening of the movie.
David Denman, as the father who looks at a son who wants to be a cook as ‘unmanly’, gives a performance equal to Macdonald’s and is particularly moving in a family scene and another where he confronts the wife he thought he knew but is a puzzle to him now.
Khan, Abrams and, particularly Weiler (I just wish he would change that first name!) are strong supporting actors.
The screenplay by Oren Moverman and Polly Mann only falter near the ending while the director Marc Turtletaub has a very strong group of actors to work with, guides them and seems to stay out of their way when he should.
“Puzzle” is a ‘must see’ movie for many reasons but mainly to watch an actress take her character through life changes, make those changes believable to her and us and is surrounded by actors who react to the changes that happen to her as we would.




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