NZIFF: Puzzle

1 hr. 43 min. | Rated M | for offensive language and sexual references.

Starring: Kelly Macdonald, David Denman, Irrfan Khan, Austin Abrams, Liv Hewson

“Marc Turtletaub’s film… revels in the possibilities of finding something new in a wholly ordinary life. For Agnes (Kelly Macdonald), that starts with the literal opening of a birthday gift, one that contains a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle that ignites in her not only a new passion, but also the long-dormant sense that she’s excellent at something. And Agnes is really, really good at puzzling, a quick worker who takes great pride in the finished product – before she breaks it all up to start again…

Oren Moverman’s script, based on the Argentinian film by Natalia Smirnoff [NZIFF10], is graceful with the details and its characters. Agnes never went to college, lives in the same house she did while growing up with her Hungarian immigrant dad, and looks way too young to already have two grown sons. Her husband Louie (David Denman, essentially playing the same role he did in The Office) is a blue-collar dude who loves his wife, but is unable to truly see her. Agnes’ world is a tight circle, moving between home and church and errands and back again…

At the puzzle store, a small note hangs from the register: a champion puzzler [charismatic Irrfan Khan] is looking for a partner. Agnes’ entire life blows up. Puzzle toes a tough line, managing to stay relentlessly good-hearted and deeply humane, even as Agnes herself plunges into deeper, more dramatic waters. It’s the kind of mid-life crisis story that so rarely centers on a woman and Macdonald shines in the role, riveting even in the quietest of moments.” — Kate Erbland, Indiewire

“Turtletaub’s gentle and winning thesis is that it is possible to shift things around to create the picture you want without having to smash everything up in the process.” — Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film

Trailer

Session Times

Poster of NZIFF: Puzzle