'Puzzle' is Well Made, but a Few Pieces are Missing

Based on the film Rompecabezas, Puzzle is one of those little-known independent films that sneaks into theaters with little to no fanfare, although the fact that it is being promoted “from the producer of Little Miss Sunshine” should help it get noticed somewhat. Puzzle is a quiet, little film about a woman who discovers that jigsaw puzzles are the key to changing her life. While the subject matter doesn’t sound all that exciting, the film really isn’t about puzzles but instead about one finding their voice, or so it appears. It’s also a message film that has its own agenda expecting the audience to agree with the choices of the main character and applaud her “brave” behavior. Frankly, it just feels manipulative.

Directed by Marc Turtletaub, Puzzle’s most impactful scene comes within the first few minutes. We see Agnes (Kelly MacDonald) cleaning up the house and they decorating it for a birthday party. Then we see her serving appetizers while being ignored by the guests. …

Independent 'My Son' is Surprisingly Realistic

Cadon (Restin Burk) and Jess (Kate Randall) discuss how to get their son back.

Not too long ago I received some flak from a promoter of a faith-based film that I gave a fairly negative review. As a fellow Christian, I want to be supportive of other believer’s projects, but as a reviewer, I want to critique art for what it is. He tried to reason with me saying that film’s production had a limited budget and that I shouldn’t expect a Christian film to be Oscar-worthy. In response, I told him that I believe in doing the best you can with what you got. The film he presented me was not the best it could be. The writing was poor. The acting was poor. The music was poor. The film meant well, but it wasn’t a well-made movie.

Contrast that experience to one I just had watching the film, My Son. It too featured actors who have never acted before and was put together on a shoe-string budget, but this film (and others like it) proves that low budget Christian films can be made well. Much can be done with a good story.

Produced by Retta Vision Motion Pictures (a ministry of Retta Baptist Church in Rendon, TX.) and FlyRock Media, My Son is unlike many Christian films before it. For one, it’s rated “R.” This is due to scenes of violence and drug use, but probably should have a rating a PG or PG-13. Most of the violence is off-screen and isn’t gratuitous.

Jess (Kate Randall) is a single mother doing her best to care for her young son Austin. She lives with new boyfriend, Cadon (Restin Burk) who is barely making ends meet for just himself let alone a family. Their questionable living arrangement causes concern for Jess’ parents James and Sharri Clarke (Chuck Kitchens and Paige Easterling) who fight for custody of Austin and win. Desperate to get their son back, Jess and Cadon go to extreme measures which lead to a shooting at a local church.


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