Solving life


Opens Friday, Aug. 24. Pageant Theatre. Rated R.
Rated 4.0

Agnes (Kelly MacDonald) is a shy and sweetly submissive housewife and mother of two teenage sons. When we first meet her, she’s working in the kitchen at what turns out to be her own birthday party.

One of the presents she gets is a large jigsaw puzzle, which she masters so quickly and pleasurably that she makes a “secret” trip to an NYC specialty store where she not only finds more puzzles but also takes the first step toward becoming a competitive “puzzle partner” in tournaments.

The partner she finds is a solitary and independently wealthy inventor named Robert (Irrfan Khan) and what ensues is a wistfully complex drama of self-discovery and personal reinvention.

MacDonald gets a surprising amount of emotional power out of a resolutely low-key performance. David Denman is good as Louie, her somewhat dense but not unkindly husband. Austin Abrams and Bubba Weiler play the couple’s sons as contrasting studies in the serendipitous emergence of maturity.

But it is the mysteriousness, the volatile blend of uncertainty and lucidity, in Khan’s performance that best embodies the film’s wary wisdom.