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DVD Review: Puzzle

November 27, 2018

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Agnes (Kelly Macdonald) is a housewife, who has dedicated herself to looking after her husband Louie (David Denman) and their two sons Ziggy (Bubba Weiler) and Gabe (Austin Abrams), who are now young adults but not quite ready to forge their own paths.

She is bored and wants something more, but seems too nervous and anxious to actually pursue it, instead cocooning herself up in the domestic world she has always known. But when she receives a jigsaw puzzle as a birthday gift, Agnes finds a new passion in the form of puzzling, and discovers a real talent for assembling the pieces in record time.

Agnes takes a rare trip into New York to buy herself another puzzle at a trendy downtown shop, and stumbles across the number for Robert (Irrfan Khan), a wealthy recluse who is looking for a partner to compete with him in an upcoming puzzle tournament. Through her biweekly trips to New York to meet with him and practise, which she keeps secret from her family, the middle aged Agnes finally starts to discover a part of herself that she has long kept buried.

Built around a wonderful performance by Macdonald, Puzzle is a quiet character drama that draws us into Agnes’s world and allows us to sympathize with her every step of the way. She is likely somewhere on the autism spectrum, with her innate talent for putting puzzles together stemming from her love of patterns and math, and watching her finally come into her own and gain newfound independence is bittersweet and often moving. It’s a performance of deceptive simplicity, and Khan is her match, delivering understated work that subverts expectations.

Based on Natalia Smirnoff’s 2009 Argentinian film of the same name, and featuring a nuanced script co-written by Polly Mann and Oren Moverman, Puzzle is a tender and touching film that beautifully tells a simple yet compelling story. This is the sort of low-key drama that takes the time to get to know its characters, and it’s worth seeing for the exceptional work of Macdonald, with her quietly powerful performance offering a masterclass in subtle complexities.

The DVD also includes a commentary track with director Marc Turtletaub, an alternate ending, and the featurette Completing the Puzzle.

Puzzle is a Sony Pictures Home Entertainment release. It’s 103 minutes and rated 14A.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 28, 2018 10:32 am

    Reblogged this on Art by Nicole Corrado and commented:
    Another film with an autistic character.


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