Welcome witches and warlocks,

Today I will be reviewing the psychological thriller KALEIDOSCOPE (2016) by writer/director Rupert Jones. To best describe the story, I will use my own plot summary:

“Mild mannered Carl’s fresh start is shattered when past actions and his mother begin to haunt his present.” 

I feel I have to say it from the top; this is not a fast paced feature. What we have here is an intensive character study that is often of the mindset that it is better to show than to tell. This translates to the audience through small mannerisms, sentences that imply more than they say, and a camera that occasionally lingers on something just long enough to make it seem significant. This leaves us to draw certain conclusions from the material that will shape how we interpret the actions of our lead character, Carl. Our focus remains on this role throughout the film as we are spending time not only learning about him, but also being drawn in to how he sees the world.

Toby Jones, portraying Carl, gives a wonderfully understated performance. He manages to pull off the magic trick of giving us clues about his role without ever giving anything away too early. This proves especially important as we spend so much time focusing in on this character’s world view that knowing everything about him from the beginning would take away much of the joy of discovery.

The cinematography emphasizes the sense of captivity or isolation that Carl feels by making his apartment feel claustrophobic. The tight camera shots never make the place feel large while the lack of long tracking shots implies that there is not much room to move around. These surmises are further reinforced by the many exterior shots that simply show the small, drab, boxlike nature of Carl’s apartment complex, which make it seem like he is in a sort of urban captivity.

All in all, this is a slow character study with a dynamite leading performance. The sense of isolation and claustrophobia the camera work creates adds layers to the psychology at play in the story. Fans of movies like Spider (2002) or The Machinist (2004) will find this to be a similarly psychological exploration.

KALEIDOSCOPE arrives in select theaters, VOD, and via digital platforms in the U.S. on December 8, 2017.

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