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Wicker Kittens (2014)   Leave a comment

kitten wicker

Have you ever wondered what intrigue lurks behind the calm façade of the average middle class home? According to the makers of Wicker Kittens, in some cases, it’s competitive jigsaw puzzling. You heard me. What Spellbound (2002) did for spelling bee contestants, and Wordplay (2006) did for crossword puzzle aficionados, Wicker Kittens does for jigsaw puzzle speed demons.

The film follows four teams of competitive puzzlers as they talk about their love of jigsaw puzzles, show us their vast collections, and prepare for the largest jigsaw puzzle competition in the country. By day, the people sell insurance, raise kids, one is legislator from Iowa, but for fun they do jigsaw puzzles…lots of jigsaw puzzles.

They get together in kitchens and dining rooms, spread the pieces out, and strategize. Do we sort? Edges first? They’re all business too. The chatting and snacking go on before and after the puzzling, but not during. The only conversation is puzzle-related. They move quickly and efficiently in teams of four. The teams highlighted in this film work like well-oiled machines. They also have fun. Competitive and focused, these teams want to win, but they’re never rude or mean-spirited about it. They’re just really nice people who have taken a casual leisure activity to the next level.

Director Amy C. Elliott (World’s Largest) made a pleasant documentary about pleasant people. No one gets killed or has an affair. No one is even impolite. Elliott doesn’t poke fun at them either. It’s not a snarky commentary, but a true documentary. She stands back and observes people enjoying their hobby and getting genuinely enthusiastic about it. The title, by the way, refers to the fact that so many jigsaw puzzles involve kittens in baskets.

I enjoyed Wicker Kittens. It showed me something I never knew existed. It’s a slice of the lives of people I will probably never meet and it’s done well. Often amusing, but never tongue-in-cheek, Wicker Kittens was a pleasant way to spend 52 minutes. It could have gone longer, but director Elliott wanted to leave us wanting more. She succeeded.

I saw Wicker Kittens as part of the Independent Film Festival of Boston 2014.

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