It is quite a bold move for a director to go out on a limb for their artistic integrity; forsaking the expected linear plot and trading it in for deeper character evaluation, alternative story construction and innovative visually technical exploration. Then to proceed to create something that isn’t completely self-indulgent, retains intrigue and is at least vaguely comprehensive to watch. This is exactly what director Rupert Jones has successfully accomplished with suspenseful indie thriller Kaleidoscope.
Carl (played by Toby Jones who is also the director’s brother) is a lonely, reserved 40 something, just recently released from prison from an undisclosed crime. In the process of rebuilding his life, he is now working as a gardener and venturing into the world of online dating. We are introduced to Toby as he’s getting ready for his first blind date with the chatty and vivacious blonde Abbey (Sinead Matthews). However, Carl falls prey to Abbey’s disingenuous intentions, as she is in cahoots with her boyfriend to rob him. With the promise of sex, Abbey persuades him to bring her back to his. Things do not go according to Abbey’s plans or Carl’s for that matter, as the storyline spirals out of any control to become something truly complex with no chronological order.
Carl wakes up dishevelled on his couch to then find Abbey’s dead body in the bathroom; oblivious to how she got there. As he is prompted to cover his tracks and rid of Abbey’s body; we are treated to a continuous series of flashbacks which retrace his steps to make some sense of what actually happened. At the same time, Abbey’s boyfriend is beating down the door and the added headache of the untimely visit by his estranged mother, Aileen (Anne Reid).
The flashbacks start to accelerate in frequency but also radically morph into completely different memories and perspectives. Carl is completely losing control of his reality. We see Abbey’s dead body replaced by Aileen’s and then back again. In other scenes, we see both women very much alive and engaged in some altercation with Carl. It’s not till Abbey arrives at his flat the next day with a broken leg, with her boyfriend in tow, that we begin to comprehend that perhaps it’s all illusionary; maybe we are seeing things through Carls’ warped mental state.
Toby Jones is spot-on as the introverted and complicated Carl. He is a mixture of ordinariness with undercurrents of likeable, self-doubt, resentment but also a tinge of nastiness. In a way, his descent into madness sees him at the mercy of his double personality which is slowly taking over, or so we think. He is also marked by a domineering mother; his and Aileen’s relationship lacks any warmth or civility; tensions tighten to snapping point, hinting at an unresolved troublesome past. Reid is also exceptional as Aileen; possessing an air of stoic composure; she remains unaffected and only slightly perplexed by her son’s behaviour who is descending into chaos right before her eyes; indicating that she may have seen this all before.
Kaleidoscope is an aesthetically stylish and structurally unique film, deserving of great recognition. Aptly called Kaleidoscope, this film is a psychedelic, ever changing pattern of motifs of a troubled man’s psyche. Heavily reminiscent of films such as Christopher Nolan’s Memento or the ground-hog day surrealness of numerous David Lynch movies. Granted, the plot becomes hazy and convoluted as the status quo is constantly subverted. Real time is overthrown as the various narrative strands turn in on themselves only to loosely tie up when reaching a final crescendo in the final scenes.
Amidst all the confusion, it is natural that as viewer you start to question what you are watching, which is obviously Jones’ intention all along. However, there is a sense of freedom that a loss of a strict narrative can provide, which further allows for visual and thematic concepts to flourish when they would otherwise remain unexplored.
Kaleidoscope is set for release on the 10th November 2017.