Show & Tell: Puzzle


This morning I had to scrape ice off my windshield for the first time this year. So there’s no doubt about it, we’re well on our way to the long-nights-and-low-temps portion of the annual cycle.

Fortunately, that means that the activities that might distract our attention from movies—barbecues on the beach, daiquiris on the deck, and hikes in the hills—have been placed in storage along with our Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops. These are all good things, but the movie world has put away summery things and wants us to find more nourishing fare.

Might I suggest that Puzzle, the movie now playing at The Music Hall, would be an excellent way to continue a fall season full of good movies? Puzzle is the story of a suburban housewife who has lost her confidence and her sense of herself, but discovers that she’s really good at putting together jigsaw puzzles.

This might not seem to you to be the answer to the dislocated housewife’s prayer, but it turns out that competitive puzzling is a big deal in some circles. And when Agnes, the woman in question, answers an ad placed by someone looking for a competitive puzzling partner…Well, you probably know a great deal about what happens already.

But you don’t know everything.

Agnes is played by Kelly Macdonald, a fabulous actress who has brought low-key intensity to TV shows like Boardwalk Empire and movies like No Country for Old Men. This is her first leading role, and I have no doubt that she just kills it.

The guy who places the ad for a puzzle partner is played by Irrfan Khan, who is a huge star in Indian movies (including The Lunchbox, one of my favorite date movies of all time), but looks perfect as the slightly eccentric means of Agnes’s escape.

I could go on about the movie’s pedigree, but all I’ll say is that I’m looking forward to a quiet character piece with excellent performances and unexpected twists along the way. Which is to say that we’re not leaping directly into the Oscar derby just yet. That won’t happen until October 30, when we will be discussing Spike Lee’s BlackkKlansman, which will be all that and a bag of jalapeno chips.

I hope to see you Tuesday night (October 16) at The Music Hall in The Historic Theater. And don’t forget to put BlackkKlansman on your calendar for the 30th.

Paul Goodwin