Did I think I would watch a movie in which jigsaw puzzle competition contestants make fun of other contestants who are so amateur that they bring snacks to the event? No, but I’m super glad I did. I loved Wicker Kittens; it’s an adorable documentary about competitive puzzle nerds. They don’t make fun of others with malice; it’s all in jest. These people are adorable nerds who love this hobby of theirs, and I had a blast watching them get excited about puzzles.
Wicket Kittens is like getting to know a good friend’s family and learning about their love for hobbies you didn’t know anyone cared about. Their passion is extremely charming.
This movie has a Jigsaw Puzzle Historian. Her license plate says, “Puzzle.” One of the competitors is an Iowa state legislator! Two characters complain together that there can be variation among puzzle cuts. When a puzzle is made, it starts as one large piece cardboard (or other material) with a design on it (like a famous painting), and then a machine literally cuts it into puzzle pieces. In some cases, puzzles are cut uniquely each time as the cutting machine is rotated. As a result, our very serious jigsaw puzzlers complained that they could get a harder cut at the competition and be at a disadvantage. These people LOVE jigsaw puzzles and they’re very serious about this competition. I really appreciated that these characters aren’t silly caricatures, they’re just real. I know that sounds oddly obvious when discussing a documentary, but a lot of characters in documentaries put on a face or are pigeonholed into their particularly extraordinary characteristic. Wicker Kittens works because the characters feel like real people.
The final showdown is a slight letdown and the music can feel a little obvious at parts, but overall this is an excellent documentary. Short and sweet at 52 minutes, I highly recommend it if you’re looking for some lighter fare at IFF Boston or later in the year in theaters or on demand (fingers crossed for distribution).
Wicker Kittens screens at 7pm on Thursday, 4/24 and 9:30pm on Monday, 4/28 at the Somerville Theatre. More information and tickets can be found here at the IFF Boston website.