Sundance Film Festival: ‘Puzzle’

“Puzzle” is the missing piece in American blockbuster filmmaking. It’s about what Peter Parker’s Aunt May does her days while Spider-Man is off saving the neighborhood, or how Clark Kent’s adoptive mother Martha feels about her life back in Smallville. So often, great actresses are relegated to playing the wives girlfriends of heroic male protagonists, appearing only to bite their nails or fret by the phone amidst all the excitement. “Puzzle” focuses on the part of the story those films ignore, privileging the interior life of just such a woman via the unexpected mid-life discovery that ’s a jigsaw puzzle prodigy, and the independent streak that realization inspires. It’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 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 (it’s a man who’s reviewing it, after all). “Amelie” to “Aquarius,” there […]

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