by director Marc Turtletaub
I never really knew my mother. I wonder if anyone did.
Long before #MeToo, she faced a very different kind of repression that weighed especially heavy upon many of her generation: an expectation to be a dutiful wife and mother—and nothing more. That script was so imprinted in her DNA that it seemed self-inflicted.
Until she turned 80. Then, in a rare moment of intimacy, she confided in me that she was thinking about leaving her husband of fifty plus years and moving to New York City and, “doing what I want everyday.” It wasn’t about my father, it was about her, she seemed to say.
Seven years later she died, still in suburban New Jersey. In the years in between, we never talked about it again. I never asked her what she would do in New York. Would she go to museums and the theatre? Would she make new friends who would talk about things that interested her? What were the dreams she harbored? I never asked.
Agnes, the woman at the center of Puzzle also lives in a New York City suburb. Doting on her husband and teenage sons when we first meet her, she doesn’t seem unhappy. She is living the life she was raised to fulfill.
Until one day, when she discovers a small gift that opens the door to a new world. Her life will never be the same.
Puzzle is the story of Agnes, set in 2018. It is a reminder that even today, there are women weighted by the expectations of society to be something less than they might be. It is a story of a woman who finds herself in the most unlikely of ways. A story of family and discovering the world beyond family. And maybe the story of a life my mother might have led.