'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. …

Director Kevin Reynolds Says that 'Risen' is Really a Detective Story

Director Kevin Reynolds, Joseph Fiennes and Tom Felton


How do you retell a story that has been told for over 2,000 years? You change the perspective, at least you do if you director Kevin Reynolds.

When Reynolds was approached by LD Entertainment about creating another passion play-type movie, he wanted to bring a fresh approach to the story about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Let’s face it, the story has been told many times before and well from Cecil B. DeMille’s 1927 film, The King of Kings, to the bloody The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson in 2004. Why create a new film? It’s not exactly like God needs a reboot. But then again, maybe his people do.

“We wanted to do something completely different from what had come before, so I came up with the idea that Risen would be told as a detective story.” Says Reynolds in recent press release.

Reynolds may be onto something here. Many people, Christian or not, know (or think they know) the whole story about the events the surrounded the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, but as Paul Harvey used to say, “You don’t know the rest of the story.”

Known for his work on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the TV miniseries, Hatfields & McCoys, Reynolds says that he “wanted the film to feel big and epic, but seen from a single character’s perspective.” Gibson did that in Passion from the perspective of Jesus. Here, the view will be coming from Clavius, a Roman soldier that would not be too easily persuaded. In this story, Clavius (played by Jospeh Fiennes) is searching for Christ’s body not because he wants to, but because he has to.

“When we first meet Clavius … he’s this rigorous, ambitious military man who’s spend 25 years serving the Roman army, so he’s really entrenched in one form of thinking,” says Fiennes. “Clavius [later] arrives at a crossroad where he realizes there might be a life beyond everything he knew before, something outside of previous conditioning. Having put this supposed Messiah out of his misery, Clavius comes fact to face with Yeshua (another name for Jesus) again at the end of the film when he’s resurrected and that’s a big turning point.” Yep. You could say that.

Some actors do a lot of research in order to ready themselves for their role. For Fiennes, he followed a police detective to learn interrogation techniques. Seriously. “My real way into Clavius came from sitting down with a detective and talking about what it’s like to question suspects,” says Fiennes. “Although this is a biblical story, I wanted to be pragmatic about what Clavius needs to do, because I really do see the piece as a noir detective story.”

Jesus will be portrayed by Cliff Curtis who said, “Whether you believe he [Jesus] was the son of God or not, Yeshua was an extraordinary human being. He changed the way humanity perceived life itself, so it’s been an incredible honor to portray him. I could only approach the role with gratitude and humility,” says the actor.

Not only did he approach the role with humility, but he avoided his co-stars as well. Very much a method actor, Curtis avoided eye contact with Fiennes during the four month shooting of the film. “We were often in the same room, but never engaged, and somehow that made it more exciting when we did finally have full contact on screen, verbally and emotionally,” says Curtis.

Of course with the subject matter at hand, Risen is very much a faith-based movie, but Reynolds wants the film to appeal to all audiences. “Obviously we want the faith community to feel that they’re represented in the right way. But if you’re not a believer, all the action and great dramatic moments offer so many other reasons to be entertained by Risen, says producer Mickey Liddell.

Reynolds agrees: “We don’t really want to tell anyone what they should believe. People can use this film as a vehicle to examine their own spirituality, or just enjoy the story purely from a cinematic standpoint.”

Risen opens on Friday, February 19. In addition to Fiennes and Curtis, the film also stars Tom Felton as Lucius, and Peter Firth as Pontius Pilate.


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