Who knew there were jigsaw puzzle competitions?
I must admit I didn’t. But our next Film Society movie, The Puzzle, informs us about them (strategy is actually involved) and throws in a sweet and satisfying story to boot.
Awkward and introverted, Agnes is the epitome of the unappreciated housewife. Her husband and two sons are not bad people, they’re just stuck in their old ways and very much take her for granted. The opening scene says it all: she cleans her house, prepares for a party, hangs a Happy Birthday sign, greets the guests, and lights the candles. The catch is — it’s her birthday party. The only redeeming part is that she receives a gift which is about to change her life: a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle.
The next day, Agnes sits down and puts together the entire puzzle in just a few hours. It inspires her to bravely venture out to New York City in pursuit of more challenging puzzles. She sees an ad posted by someone seeking a partner for an upcoming puzzle competition. Intrigued, Agnes answers the ad and thus meets wealthy, attractive Robert, and she begins sneaking out to attend bi-weekly practice sessions at his house. An unlikely friendship evolves and we watch Agnes blossom but, as expected, her personal metamorphosis has consequences at home.
Irrfan Khan, who plays Robert, and the actors playing her husband and sons are all outstanding, but they take a back seat to Kelly Macdonald, who owns this film. A story of personal empowerment with humour and heart, and Macdonald’s magnificent performance, make for a very enjoyable 2 hours.