The shifting patterns of a kaleidoscope are reflected in a drama that keeps changing focus.


Toby Jones


It makes sense that Toby Jones should star in this film since it marks the debut of his brother Rupert who is both writer and director. That Rupert Jones has a real interest in cinematic technique is not to be doubted and it is apparent that he is an admirer of Hitchcock (shots of a circling stairway bring Vertigo to mind while a track back from the interior of a toy kaleidoscope plays as a homage to the most memorable shot in Frenzy).The look of the piece (colour photography by Philipp Blaubach) and the timing of it (editing by Tommy Boulding) are in keeping with this, but the story that Rupert Jones has chosen to tell leaves one in a state of confusion.


A pre-credits sequence introduces us to the central figure: Carl Woods played by Toby Jones is a loner who has lived in a flat in a London tower block since emerging from prison a year earlier. We discover him waking up and then see him going up to his bathroom where he finds the body of a dead girl. Following the credits a neighbour (Cecilia Noble) looks in and talks of body parts that have been found. The clear implication is that Kaleidoscope will be a film about a murderer and when Abby (Sinead Matthews), a girl who has communicated with Carl online, comes to his flat it looks as though she will be his next victim. At least it does so until it comes to seem that these scenes could represent a flashback thus identifying her with the dead girl already glimpsed.


However, the fact that the situation is portrayed with relatively little sense of suspense and tension causes one to reassess what one is watching. Perhaps Kaleidoscope is more concerned to present a portrait of a psychopath and one in which Carl’s hatred for his mother (Anne Reid), who comes to visit against his wishes, will play a key role. But, if intercutting eventually suggests that Carl is a mother’s boy who wants to kill her and has found a substitute instead, the film’s deliberate lack of clarity as to what is real and what imaginary prevents it from functioning as a revealing and involving portrayal of a man with a seriously troubled mind. In passing I should add that the kaleidoscope of the title was a gift to young Carl from his late father but the fact that a flashback to him shows him with an unexplained bloody head is all too characteristic of the film’s style. 


Ultimately Kaleidoscope comes up with a twist that gives an entirely different perspective on events, but it is no more effective than those mid-20th century movies which ended with a character waking up because what we had seen up to then had been a dream. Anne Reid and Sinead Matthews provide competent support and Toby Jones not surprisingly does all that can be done for the central role. But the story, even when cinematically told, is one more likely to result in bewilderment than satisfaction.




Cast: Toby Jones, Anne Reid, Sinead Matthews, Cecilia Noble, Karl Johnson, Frederick Schmidt, Deborah Findlay, Manjinder Virk, Tim Newton, Clare Perkins, Andy Williams.


Dir Rupert Jones, Pro Maggie Mortieth and Matthew James Wilkinson, Screenplay Rupert Jones, Ph Philipp Blaubach, Pro Des Adrian Smith, Ed Tommy Boulding, Music Mike Prestwood, Costumes Suzie Harman.


Stigma Film/Dignity Group/Longships Films-Pinpoint.
99 mins. UK/USA. 2016. Rel: 10 November 2017. Cert. 15.