The Puzzle Review and Trailer

Some movies capture us with their characters, some with a clever or emotional plot. The Puzzle, written and directed by Natalia Smirnoff felt distant and hazy as if it was someone telling you a story that was told to them.  The end result was a mediocre, shallowly entertaining story with an empty space where the soul should be.  I enjoy the occasional film that warms our hearts or teaches lessons by guiding us on a journey of discovery, but the characters in The Puzzle lacked the necessary emotional connection with the viewer to produce such a journey.

The story follows a simple mother and mindful wife Maria del Carmen (Maria Onetto) as she descends into her midlife crisis. Ultimately, I thought she would come out on the other side evolved into a stronger character.  As the movie began wrapping up, I was rather disappointed to still be watching a bleak woman seemingly deteriorating – not someone with a close bond to her children and her husband Juan (Gabriel Goity.) She was not even someone who had made any real progress or transformation as a character, but instead made a series of choices regarding another love interest, Roberto (Arturo Goetz), which led to a somewhat suggestively confusing ending.  Filled in between the beginning and the end was a mild story line of puzzle tournaments and infidelity.

I go into all movies with a positive mindset.  I enjoy the thrill of being surprised.  I crave the connection to characters as they push me through different emotional turns.  I have learned to love characters in movies as if they were real.  These characters failed to take me anywhere and I was left with a feeling of boredom and distance.  Maybe this film could connect with a puzzle enthusiast.  Maybe.

Puzzle opens in San Francisco for one week only on Friday, September 9th at New People Cinema (1746 Post Street) as part of the San Francisco Film Society’s Fall programming schedule.

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