Based on a 2009 Argentinian film called Rompecabezas, this pleasing story serves as a starring vehicle for the wonderful Kelly Macdonald. Like the character she plays (a devoted wife and mother who works like a dog and never complains) she has been taken for granted somewhat and deserves a leading role like this that allows her to shine.
Set in modern-day but bearing earmarks of decades past, this feature is aimed at mature moviegoers and (inevitably, for films aimed at that demographic) follows a familiar path. Agnes (Macdonald, playing American) has never questioned the drudgery of her daily routine, and genuinely loves her blue-collar husband and indolent sons. Then one day she takes a train into Manhattan to purchase a challenging jigsaw puzzle and sees a notice from someone seeking a “puzzle partner.” She uncharacteristically answers the ad and meets the worldly, wealthy Irrfan Khan, who is impressed with her skills and intrigued by her secretive ways.
Each step emboldens her. She lies to her family about what she’s doing, begins to exhibit curiosity about the world around her, and transforms herself into an independent woman—to the shock of her family, especially her old-fashioned spouse.
If there are no great surprises in Puzzle there is the satisfaction of watching the story play out. The supporting cast is well-chosen but it’s clearly Macdonald’s film and it’s a treat to watch her character blossom. The screenplay by Polly Mann and Oren Moverman is handled with a light touch by first-time director Marc Turteltaub, a veteran producer with such films as Little Miss Sunshine and Loving to his credit.
I’m an unabashed Kelly Macdonald fan. If you share my admiration for her, Puzzle is a must-see.