It’s hard to imagine anything that sounds more low stakes than putting together jigsaw puzzles, but Marc Turtletaub’s “Puzzle” turns a relatively benign hobby into the catalyst for charming new drama. Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald stars in the film, which debuted at Sundance in January, and the combination of Turtletaub’s graceful direction and Macdonald’s satisfying and humane performance result in a mid-life crisis film with a darling edge.
Turtletaub’s film – his second feature, though he’s got a slew of producing credits, including previous Sundance favorites “Jack Goes Boating” and “Safety Not Guaranteed” — revels in the possibilities of finding something new in a wholly ordinary life. For Macdonald’s sheltered character Agnes, that starts with the literal opening of a birthday gift, one that contains a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle that ignites in her not only a new passion, but also the long-dormant sense that she’s excellent at something.
And Agnes is really, really good at puzzling, a quick worker who takes great pride in the finished product – before she breaks it all up to start again. Eventually, Agnes’ new obsession leads her to a new friend, a champion puzzler named Robert (Irfan Khan) who is looking for a partner for an upcoming competition (yes, there are puzzle competitions). From something so small, tiny as a single puzzle piece, Agnes finds the strength to totally change her life.
The film also stars David Denman, Bubba Weiler, and Austin Abrams and features original music from Oscar nominee Dustin O’Halloran. Check out the first trailer for “Puzzle” below.
“Puzzle” hits theaters on July 13.