Wednesday 14 November 2012

The Puzzle (2008)

Director: Davide Melini
Stars: Cachito Noguera and Alessandro Fornari

After adoring The Sweet Hand of the White Rose, whatever problems I found with it, I was eager to see what writer/director Davide Melini might have done before that. His previous short film, his third, was The Puzzle, shot two years earlier in 2008. It's much shorter and more to the point, running under five minutes, even including the credits, but it doesn't sacrifice any of the style that was so notable about the later film. It's another agreeably hallucinatory piece that follows a mother unwilling to give any more money to her son. 'It's over, you hear,' she enforces as she slams the phone down on him. So she goes back to her desk to work on a jigsaw puzzle, while the camera becomes her tension, rising and falling and circling around. As time moves on, the curtains swirl and the tension changes, using double exposures along with standard suspense tricks to keep the whole thing stylishly feverish.
There are two apparent flaws. One is that it isn't apparent until the end credits that this woman is dealing with her son. From her language and the photo by the phone I'd assumed it was her lover or even an estranged husband. I don't know if I'm criticising the photo and the choice of line or praising Cachito Noguera, but the other flaw is her acting, which is overdone. She seems to have a perpetual half grin that doesn't fit with the tension she obviously feels. Unfortunately for the most part she's it, unless you can count the house itself as a second character. Certainly it gets as much attention and opportunity to build character as she does, with the Ikea furniture occasionally just as mobile. Really though, Noguera's acting isn't a big deal, given that she gets very little dialogue and is mostly tasked with feeling unnerved, often in fast forward. Like The Sweet Hand of the White Rose, this is about feel and on that front this is another success.

The Puzzle can be viewed for free at Vimeo.

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