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PUZZLE

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PUZZLE

* * *

(Tender, touching tale )

Whoever thought that someone could make a movie about a jigsaw puzzle competition?

Why not? Sylvester Stallone made one about arm wrestling.

The jigsaw puzzles are just a vehicle to tell the tender, touching tale of Agnes (Kelly Macdonald), a suburban, middle-class wife and mother whose life has been devoted to being a supportive but repressed wife and mother. It is a simple but glorious story of a submissive woman who finds her way to not only break out of her shell but to find the time and the way to think positively of herself and to act on those thoughts.

Macdonald is great as the mousy woman who slowly gains her self-confidence and realizes that there is more to life than cooking, cleaning and caring for her clueless husband (David Denman) and two older sons. Agnes discovers that she has the knack to put together 1,000-piece puzzles quickly and easily. She answers an ad for a partner in a puzzle competition.

Making up stories about helping a sick person out, she takes the train into New York City, meets a wealthy, intelligent man from an entirely different culture, and begins training for the big competition.

There's a lot more going on than putting puzzle pieces together, as the two develop an intellectual and emotional relationship, which puts a strain on her marriage as it frees her from her emotional bondage. There is a point where Agnes must choose, and you may or may not like her choice. But it is hers, and she has grown to be her own person.

While the movie does move slowly over its hour and three quarters, a lot happens to Agnes and the people around her. And you will be rooting for her.

Rated R for some profanity.

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