Puzzle

Mustering all the thrills of watching your grandma ease that last jigsaw piece into place, this slender Argentine drama would have worked better as a short---or, in a perfect world, as an interior novella. Shy Mara (Onetto) inches toward the mildest of midlife crises, her days dominated by cooking for her two growing sons and a doting husband. A 50th-birthday present of a jigsaw puzzle turns into a late-night obsession, marked by secret trips to a game store and, after responding to an ad, a flirty friendship with wealthy bachelor Roberto (Goetz), who wants them to enter a tournament as a team.

Just when you're asking yourself if we're really going there, the plot commits to scenes of color sorting and discussions of "unorthodox" solving strategy; had this been a Will Ferrell movie, this is where the comedy would kick in. But writer-director Natalia Smirnoff clearly sees her tale as a serious one. Credit, then, must go to the cast---especially Gabriel Goity's increasingly mystified spouse---for creating sparks where little heat exists. There's too much coyness about the implicit romance across the table; several other tensions concerning female independence go mostly unexplored. But the film's quiet focus on a woman's anxiety is not unwelcome.

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Release details

Release date: Saturday May 28 2011
Duration: 87 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Natalia Smirnoff
Screenwriter: Natalia Smirnoff
Cast: MarĂ­a Onetto
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