Sundance Film Festival: ‘Puzzle’

“Puzzle” the missing piece in American blockbuster filmmaking. ’s about what Peter Parker’s Aunt May does days while Spider-Man is off saving the neighborhood, or how Clark Kent’s adoptive mother Martha feels about back in Smallville. So often, great actresses are relegated to playing the wives and girlfriends of heroic male protagonists, appearing only to bite nails or fret by the phone amidst all the excitement. “Puzzle” focuses the part of the story those films ignore, privileging the interior of such a woman via the unexpected mid- discovery that she’s a jigsaw puzzle prodigy, and the independent streak that realization inspires. ’s a small, subtle movie — like a Vermeer, painted on the head of a pin — conceived by a woman (Argentine director Natalia Smirnoff’s quiet, detail-oriented debut was a break-out at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival) and then handed over to a male director (“Little Miss Sunshine” producer Marc Turtletaub ) for its sensitive, yet strangely airless English-language remake. That’s not to suggest a man can’t capture or appreciate the nuances of such a story (’s a man who’s reviewing , after all). From “Amelie” to “Aquarius,” there […]

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