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KALEIDOSCOPE (2016)

Directed by Rupert Jones
Written by Rupert Jones
Starring Toby Jones, Anne Reid, Sinead Matthews, Deborah Findlay, Karl Johnson, Cecilia Noble, Frederick Schmidt, Manjinder Virk

I’m always a sucker for a good descent into madness. Laced with all kinds of Hitchcockian paranoia and even some Freudien Oedipal nastiness, that’s just what KALEIDOSCOPE offers.


Carl (Toby Jones) is a lonely man looking to find someone to love. He lives an organized and simple life, but that is about to change when he goes on an online date with Abby (Sinead Matthews). The date seems to go well, but when Abby gives Carl alcohol to drink, he blacks out and wakes up the next morning to find a body in his bathroom. But what really happened? It seems Carl murdered someone. But it is all unclear. When Carl’s mother Aileen (Anne Reid) comes by uninvited, we get a glimpse to see why Carl is wound up so tight. The mother and son’s relationship is strained and as Carl’s mind begins to fray, he doesn’t know is he is murderer or not or even what end is up.

KALEIDOSCOPE is almost too complex for its own good. The film does a fantastic job of making the viewer doubt what’s up from down and what’s right from wrong. The film twists in and under itself numerous times involving the timeline we’ve witnessed playing out—so much so that it is hard to get some kind of footing once the real answers to Carl’s blackout night is revealed. And even after what was supposed to have happened is revealed, I’m honestly still not sure what really went on. That’s not a great feeling to have in a film. I will admit that the film is able to convey a complete sense of unease. It succeeds in amping the paranoia to a feverish pitch and really does tranfer the viewer into the middle of Carl’s topsy turvy mind. And what a mind it is.


The most successful aspect of this film is that it exists as a showcase for the exemplary acting talents of Toby Jones in a lead role. Jones is fascinating to watch every step he makes down this tunnel of insanity. He embodies a pitiful and damaged soul—one that wants very much to be fixed, but way too damaged to do so for himself. Equally, Anne Reid dazzles as Carl’s mother. Her’s is a complex role—that of martyred matriarch, callous abuser, and feeble person in the latter years of her life. He relationship between Carl and his mother is a sick one and both rotate the parts of abuser/abusee with a skill few actors could achieve.

If you’re a fan of Toby Jones, and who isn’t really, then this film is going to be worth a look see. It does a great job of dealing with suspense and tension, but I don’t know if the resolution makes the whole ordeal worth going through. KALEIDOSCOPE is a weird little film. At times beautiful and other times truly heartbreaking. I left it perplexed, but entertained. It’s a mixed review, I know, but it’s how I felt about it all.




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