Film Review: Kaleidoscope (2016)

The kind of film it is best to know nothing about beforehand, Toby Jones and Sinéad Matthews simmer in the moody and mind-bending Kaleidoscope 

“You’ve got a businessman’s face.
‘I’d rather have his wallet.'”

It’s kinda cool to be able to rely on your brother when you’re making your debut feature film, especially when the brother in case is Toby Jones. Writer/director Rupert Jones is also able to call on quite the supporting cast – Anne Reid and Cecilia Noble, Deborah Findlay and Clare Perkins popping in for cameos too and of course, the magnificent Sinéad Matthews in a pleasingly complex role.

Indeed, Kaleidoscope is a pleasingly complex film from top to bottom (with some seriously great poster art). Jones, T. plays Carl, recently released from prison and slowly putting his life back together, even venturing into online dating. But an arresting beginning makes it immediately clear that his council flat holds many secrets and as the line between what is real and fictional becomes increasingly blurred, an untethered dreamlike state descends.

How much you enjoy the film depends on how OK you are with this state of affairs. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and here, for me, it really does work. It helps that the cast are such favourites. Matthews’ Abby is the online date whose motives are unclear, Reid is Carl’s mother whose domineering presence has psychological impact going back years. And as Jones, R. coils the timeline back on itself over and again, nothing is certain.

A psychological thriller that revels in how unsettlingly slippery it is, Kaleidoscope poses quite the challenge for the watcher but it is one which I enjoyed delving into. Philipp Blaubach’s cinematography has a wonderful sense of place as it locks us into the council estate vibe but also slips a note of eerie atmosphere which reminds us of the uncertainty of the film’s world.

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