The Edinburgh International Film Festival gets under way this week with an intriguing mix of films and events for filmgoers north of the border. The festival opens with Puzzle, a drama of awakenings by producer-turned-director Marc Turtletaub (Little Miss Sunshine). It stars Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald as Agnes, a housewife and mother-of-two from Bridgeport, Connecticut, who finds a creative outlet when she discovers a knack for doing jigsaw puzzles.
Adapted from Natalia Smirnoff’s Argentinean-made The Puzzle, the real emotional gristle comes when Agnes meets a fellow puzzler – an eccentric and wealthy inventor named Robert (Irrfan Khan) – who wants a partner to compete at professional competition events. Lying to her family, she starts travelling once a week to his sparse New York house to practice. Unsurprisingly, love flourishes among the discarded puzzle pieces, but Turtletaub keeps things low-key and credible.
Continuing its strong association with Pixar, the festival is also premiering The Incredibles 2, the Brad Bird-directed sequel to his own 2004 animation about a family of superheroes. Picking up moments after the first film finished, the story continues, with the Parrs facing a new villain – the Screenslaver (voiced by Bill Wise), who is actually a pizza delivery boy. Due to open in the UK nationwide on 13 July, this is a chance to see it first and boast to all your friends.
Another festival regular – a classic screening featuring a live orchestra – also returns. This time it’s the turn of Steven Spielberg’s shark thriller Jaws, with John Williams’ memorable score played by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. In keeping with the retro air, there’s also an in-person talk with Joe Dante, the director of Gremlins, who will also introduce his werewolf tale The Howling – screened as part of the festival’s Time of the Signs retrospective.
Other new films on show include Searching, in the American Dreams strand, which sees John Cho (from the Star Trek films) plays a father desperately seeking his missing daughter. Directed by Aneesh Chaganty, the film’s conceit is that it entirely plays out on the screen of a laptop occur in real time, with iMessage mails and FaceTime conversations providing the narrative thrust. It’s not an entirely new idea (see Unfollowed and Profile) but there’s real tension here.
In the European Perspectives section, there’s a chance to catch Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski’s excellent Cold War – winner of Best Director in Cannes this year – before it goes on general release in the UK in late August. This black-and-white tale about the trials of two lovers (Tomasz Kot, Joanna Kulig) living in Communist-era Poland is one of the year’s best reviewed films. Seeing it on the biggest screen possible is a must.
The Edinburgh International Film Festival runs from 20 June to 1 July. For more details, click here.
1. Still from Marc Turtletaub’s Puzzle.