Watching “Puzzle” gives you a sentimental and emotional feeling. It’s given a main heroine who feels unhappy and wants to better herself; and Kelly MacDonald plays her with a certain kind of tenderness and guts that makes you feel good.

An American remake of the Argentine film “Rompecanezas,” director Mark Turtletaub (producer of “Little Miss Sunshine”) and screenplay writers Oren Moverman (“Love and Mercy”) and Polly Mann give the movie choices that affect the characters. I can’t really promise you a happy ending, depending on how you view the movie, but I can promise you you’ll pick up the pieces. You’ll see what I mean in a sec.

MacDonald stars as Agnes, a Catholic mother with a mechanic husband named Louie (David Denman) and two boys: Ziggy (Bubba Weiler) and Gabe (Austin Abrams). Her role is the housewife who cooks meals, attends weekly Church meetings, and keeps her family in check.

For her birthday, she receives an iPhone, which she calls her emergency phone, and a thousand piece puzzle set, which she completes in no time. Eager to expand her horizons, she travels to New York to find herself some more puzzles, and unexpectedly, a flyer about a new puzzle partner. The man she finds is Robert (Irrfan Khan), a famous inventor, and on Monday’s and Wednesday’s, they becomes closer to both the pieces and each other. Ultimately, it becomes a problem for her, as she has to rush home to cook dinner. But on the other hand, she does become more assertive with her family, especially when face some dramatic issues.

Louie’s business is failing, so they have to sell their vacation home in order to pay for Gabe’s college fund. Neither Agnes, Louie, and Ziggy went to college, and Ziggy is deemed lazy by his father, especially when he works in his shop, and only works when he tells him to. He’s not lazy; he’s just not good at his job, and so, inspired by both his mother and cooking shows, he’d rather cook. These two characters are more meaningful to me than Gabe, who is often presented as a shadow character. In fact, who needs two sons, when one is plenty?

“Puzzle” has fine performances from MacDonald, Khan, Denman, and Weiler, given the humor and emotions they cram in their characters. It’s a sentimental piece that takes its time to introduce us to the lifestyle and drama, while it chooses its words wisely. The movie jumps around from Agnes and Robert’s two puzzles to the changes her family makes, and I was interested in seeing how they turn out.

Feelings are expressed through tones and facial expressions in certain cases. MacDonald (using her American accent) proved that to me, the minute I met her character. I could already tell she isn’t happy where she’s at, and how she wants things to be better.

Again, there are no guarantees on a happy ending, based on how you view this, but given its heart, it still gets a positive review from me.


Categories: Drama

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