Putting Pieces Together: Cinematic Puzzles and Puzzlers

Puzzle (Mark Turtletub, 2018)

While Jigsaw puzzles by Kelly MacDonald and Irrfan Khan may sound like a tough frolic to watch together, I have brought this movie for you. If not here’s a new product just for you!

Kelly MacDonald has quietly built a career as one of the most compelling actresses of the last twenty years. She distorts her beautiful Scottish brogue (after which Merida gives voice) to become the Midwestern woman Agnes, a housewife who mixes her own needs and interests with the care of her husband Louis (David Denman) and their two teenage sons. She is in her forties and has no personal identity.

The scripts of Oren Moverman and Polly Mann, for all their obvious symbolism, level the subtlety in Agnes’ story. The film begins with her decorating and cooking for a big party. He walks around snacking and cleaning up after guests. Only when it is time to extinguish the candle in the cake, a cake that he baked and the candles that he lit, do we learn that it is a celebration of Agnes. When her drunken husband breaks a plate into pieces, she can’t help but hit with a break to put the pieces back together. One is still missing, but Louis Plate has blown away his worries about the shard. As a gift she gets a jigsaw puzzle from her aunt and an iPhone from her husband / family. It’s not that they think he’ll appreciate the device; Families want another way to communicate and monitor their needs.

One afternoon, Agnes takes a rare moment to herself and puts the jigsaw puzzle together in one sitting. For the first time in the film, he is engaged in an activity that no one else gives. When he works, he starts again. He throws the puzzle so hard that he’s the culprit for fixing the family dinner. In each sequence, director Turtletube reinforces the activity that puts its own needs before them, challenging dynamic but perceived social norms and traditions. After realizing the normal height of the puzzle (staying in control, even being a little selfish), Agnes set out on a train to New York City to find a puzzle shop and buy more puzzles, breaking its boundaries. Invalid. He bought two puzzles, and it was no coincidence that one had a classic portrait of a naked man at rest. Here he notices an advertisement for a puzzle that requires a competition partner. He uses his new 21st Century communication device to communicate this mysterious puzzle named Robert (an incredibly charming Irfan Khan in the role of his last English language film) and embarks on a journey through this confusing and mid-day reunion with this mysterious inventor and divorcee.

The film takes you in a way that seems predictable but sticks to a part of the puzzle for the final performance. PuzzleIts ending may initially disappoint some viewers, but let it sit before we jump into criticism made up of our own innate need to narrowly define success or character growth. Robert says that a line that holds everything – its transcendence, its desire to step out of its destiny – and sets that missing part firmly, perfectly in place.

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