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16 Aug 2018

Putting the Pieces Together: 'Puzzle' Is a Surprising Delight

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Kelly Macdonald in Puzzle. Kelly Macdonald in Puzzle.

Kelly Macdonald is terrific in Puzzle as Agnes, a mother of two and wife to Louie (an also-excellent David Denman). Agnes is loved by her family, but they tend to not pay attention to her at times—and she’s beginning to lose interest in their mundane routines.

She finds solace in jigsaw puzzles, and realizes she has a talent for putting them together fast. She sees a posting for a person looking to find a “puzzle partner,” gives him a call, and strikes up a friendship with Robert (Irrfan Khan), an eccentric millionaire with a shared fascination for puzzles. As the two meet twice a week to train for a puzzle competition, things go beyond friendship, and Agnes is forced to make some decisions about her home life.

Marc Turtletaub’s minimalist direction is perfect for this story, which plays a lot better than it sounds. Macdonald is first-rate during every second she’s onscreen—especially in her scenes with Denman and Khan. Khan brings a lot of dimension to Robert, who is basically a nutty, lonely guy. Denman does a remarkable job of making Louie likable, even if he is a bit of a dick at times.

It’s not a film I was especially anxious to watch, given its premise. I was pleasantly surprised.

Puzzle opens Friday, Aug. 17, at theaters across the valley.

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