A suburban New York mother hemmed in by errands knows unfashionably analogue liberty in jigsaw problems in this modest more stroking drama
Compare how vital Kelly Macdonald was to 1996′ s Trainspotting with her cursory vicinity in 2017′ s boysy sequel, and you’ll have some impression of how the British film industry has underestimated her. Macdonald has always been a supremely pity performer ,~ ATAGEND but her mousy breath would otherwise have been seen as a big-screen limited. She ran round in subservient characters( Gosford Park, Nanny McPhee ), before escaping pantry obligation via HBO’s Boardwalk Empire: a wife percentage, yes, but one that proved steelier than firstly thoughts over that five-season feed. TV arcs crouch towards their own model of justice.
Puzzle, the quirky US indie opening this year’s Edinburgh film festival, finds Macdonald tending live yet again- though here it’s an acknowledgement of wasted potential, a corner from which her persona Agnes needs to be sprung. We meet her doing the day displacement in her commuter-belt New York home, odd maiden out in a republican bolthole lorded over by mechanic spouse Louie( David Denman) and two tempestuous college-age lads. Escape emanates, unusually, in the form of a jigsaw puzzle- a birthday present that returns Agnes interval from hassles. Yet the knack likewise opens this meek den-mother’s eyes to her huge, long-honed equipment for putting everything in its rightful place.
The out-of-the-box tale was derived from The Puzzle, a 2009 Argentinian drama written and directed by Lucrecia Martel associate Natalia Smirnoff. What the new version’s director Marc Turtletaub and screenwriters Oren Moverman and Polly Mann apparently is a response to was the gradual expansion of one woman’s horizons.( Agnes’s first jigsaw figures a delineate of the world .) Puzzling countenances our protagonist welcome downtime, but also proceeds her outside in pursuit of big defies. Shuttling into Manhattan, she’s steered towards competitive puzzling by cosmopolitan emigre Robert( a nicely understated Irrfan Khan ), a spiritual leader who reformulates into something more.
What follows never perfectly assumes those now-familiar, Sundance-approved indie contours. Yes, it’s a semi-quirky drama that frequently returns to the batch of fully grown individuals exploiting jigsaw riddles as metaphors for the nature “were living” “peoples lives”. (” It’s a way to control the chaos ,” insists Robert .) Yet there’s even odder task going on within these chassis: they haven’t had the haphazardness of lived experience sanded off them to better fit a screenwriting template. Abundant theological symbolism sometimes pays Puzzle the review of a consoling matinee remaking of Darren Aronofsky’s Pi, one in which the exponent detects, rather than loses, herself in decorations and shapes.
The cast lend this quest feeling heavines and intricacy. There are moments that Macdonald hammers out of decades-long habit: Agnes’s gentle dignity at accomplishing a 1,000 -piecer, answer, or her painful modesty upon fulfilling Robert’s gaze. What’s brand-new is that she also gets to hold herself: Agnes will ultimately smacked Louie with a pricelessly sarcastic:” I’ll get your dinner now, dear .” Her pairing with the eternally lived-in Khan is itself an assertion of styles- no one would have believed to be putting these two together- and one complicated by Denman’s bluffly likable hubby, though it’s perhaps inescapable the latter should start broom completed puzzles on to dining-room floorings.
Puzzle remains as unfashionably analogue a diversion as jigsaw themselves might be in the computer game era- touchingly committed to watching shortcoming, unbalanced humanoids attempting to tesselate- and it sometimes seems a little neat about registering this process. A wilder job might have gone all-in on the competitive puzzling, where Turtletaub skirts the scene’s fringes, more compelled by character than wizard. Yet there is modest plane and sincere center now , not to mention an eye-catching centrepiece: relevant actors growing more certain of herself, and more capable than ever of maintaining an part paint together- even one as remarkable, and sometimes as unlikely, as this.
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