Producer Marc Turtletaub (Safety Not Guaranteed, Little Miss Sunshine) makes his directorial debut with Puzzle, a gently humanist story of an unassuming housewife who comes to recognize her unspoken hopes and dreams through the unlikely avenue of competitive jigsaw-puzzling.
Agnes (Kelly Macdonald, Anna Karenina; No Country for Old Men) lives a quiet, monotonous life waiting hand-and-foot on her husband, Louie (David Denman) and her two adult sons. After an evening of birthday celebrations—she cleans, cooks and prepares the house for what turns out to be her own party—she notices a gift that strikes her interest: a jigsaw puzzle of a world map. Finishing the puzzle in record time, Agnes soon finds herself answering a “partner wanted” advertisement from puzzle champion Robert (Irrfan Khan, The Lunchbox; Life of Pi). As Agnes learns more about her gift at assembling the increasingly difficult puzzles Robert challenges her with, she also begins to give voice to her long-dormant desires.
An adaptation of the 2009 Berlin Film Festival breakout hit of the same name from Argentina, Puzzle provides a sweet-natured glimpse into the complex interiority of what appears to be an entirely unremarkable life. Macdonald delivers a striking performance as Agnes, hinting at a deep longing for expression hidden beneath a lifetime of restraint. Puzzle asks us to consider what we might discover about ourselves if we allow that first spark of curiosity to ignite passion, courage and a little stubborn determination.
“From its first elegantly shot frame, you know Puzzle is going to be something special. Turtletaub (…) ends Puzzle on such a delightful note of simplicity, that this near-perfect movie nevertheless stuns.” (Jordan Ruimy, The Playlist)
“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)
“It’s a testament to Macdonald’s performance (and later, to Khan’s charm) that we share her passion for puzzling.” (Wendy Ide, Screen International)