In Theatres: 
Aug 17, 2018
Running Time: 
103 minutes

Puzzle opens with Agnes (Kelly Macdonald) cleaning up after her husband Louie (David Denman) and his friends during a birthday party at their house. A plate is broken and she immediately rushes to pick up the pieces when Louie tells her that she can do it later. It’s only when she brings out the cake and everyone starts singing happy birthday do you realize that it’s actually her own birthday that is being celebrated. Within the first 60 seconds, the film paints of clear portrait of the kind of person Agnes is and what follows is her trying to break out of her shell and rearrange the puzzle pieces of her life into a new picture.


Shy and quiet, Agnes lives a simple life at home with her husband and two kids when she discovers she has a natural talent for putting together puzzles after she receives one as a gift for her birthday. She soon becomes infatuated with them and sees an ad in the store one day searching for a professional puzzle partner. Taking a chance, she responds and meets Robert (Irrfan Khan), who introduces her to the world of competitive puzzling. Agnes’ newfound passion for puzzles seeps over into her life at home as she finally starts to stand up for herself when she realizes that she might not be as happy as she once thought.


Kelly Macdonald delivers a commanding performance in Puzzle that is subtle yet explosive. Like the opening scene, so much of the film is told through these little moments between the lines. When Agnes gets on a train to go to New York City and the ticketer says the fair is $20, she replies back with how it used to only be $8, highlighting just how long its been since she last took the train. He then tells her that it’s cheaper if she buys a pass at the station rather than on the train itself, but she doesn’t seem interested. The next time we she her on the train, however, we see her presenting a pass to him. It’s fascinating to watch Agnes develop over the course of the film, and Puzzle does an excellent job at showing this progression and not just telling you.


Puzzle is a heartwarming journey of self-discovery framed within the world of competitive puzzling. It’s not all Hollywood sunshine and rainbows, either. At times it’s messy and complicated with no easy solution, but ultimately you’re always rooting for Agnes to be happy. There’s a joy in watching the pieces fit together, even if they might not all come together as perfectly as a jigsaw puzzle.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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