Kaleidoscope

Review by David Jenkins @daveyjenkins

Directed by

Rupert Jones

Starring

Anne Reid Sinead Matthews Toby Jones

Anticipation.

A Brit chiller starring the ever-reliable Toby Jones.

Enjoyment.

Solid performances, but hard to invest in this hysterical drama.

In Retrospect.

Will still be interesting to see where Rupert Jones heads next.

Toby Jones stars as a nervy ex-con in his brother Rupert’s Hitchcockian, council estate-set thriller.

This underpowered, cod-Freudian psychodrama from writer/director Rupert Jones opts for reality-warping acrobatics over cogent drama at nearly ever turn. In the lead is Jones’ brother Toby, reliable, diligently immersed as ever in the role of oddball loner Carl, whose tragic, claustrophobic existence appears to stem from emotional traumas he suffered as a nipper. The kaleidoscope of the title is a trinket owned by Carl and serves as a contrived visual metaphor for childhood nostalgia, and a world in which beauty and pleasure are transient at best.

Carl lives alone in a tower block, and it’s a sad life all told, despite the fact that he appears a very affable type of guy. Friendly status updates with his neighbour initially attest to his normalcy, though it transpires that he is (unsurprisingly) unlucky in love. He plucks up the courage to wade headlong into a the world of online dating, purely as a way to alleviate his loneliness. But when he finally gets Abby (Sinead Matthews) home, in her figure-hugging blood-red jeans, she seems familiar from a short prologue in which Carl discovers a woman’s corpse in his bathroom. The question, then, is how we bridge the gap from highly awkward flirting to what appears to be murder.

Timeframes and true identities are blurred, and it becomes evident early on that Rupert Jones isn’t asking the viewer to take anything at face value. The revelation that Carl is an ex-convict prompts further questions regarding the veracity of events, as well as his supposed innocence as the mollycoddled son simply attempting to break free from the iron grip of his domineering mother (Anne Reid). A significant ellipsis between Carl’s romantic bungling with Abby and her death is what drives matters forward, as we join the “hero” in his attempts to fill in this important blank.

It’s a decently put together film, but unfortunately it never feels more than an exercise in technical bravura and simplistic, cinematically practical musings on the inner workings of the mind. The links drawn between cinema and the internal conscious feel deeply contrived, to the point where it’s very difficult to extend empathy towards anyone on screen. Jones has clearly spent a lot of time thinking about how all the pieces fit together into a pretty, symmetrical shape, but life and genuine human emotion are rarely so neat.

Published 8 Nov 2017

Tags: Toby Jones

Anticipation.

A Brit chiller starring the ever-reliable Toby Jones.

Enjoyment.

Solid performances, but hard to invest in this hysterical drama.

In Retrospect.

Will still be interesting to see where Rupert Jones heads next.

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