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Kaleidoscope - Kaleidoscope(DVD) [Sparky Pictures - 2019]

From 2016 Kaleidoscope is a glum-yet-oddly compelling British psychological thriller featuring the always worthy Toby Jones- Berberian Sound Studio, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and the wonderful low-key brit comedy series Detectorists. In the film, he plays Carl- a socially awkward ex-con, who may or may not have killed a woman he invited back to his bleak, and memory-laden tower block flat. The filmís written & directed by Toby's brother Rupert- itís his first feature-length film, and while itís decidedly slow in itís pace & sparse in itís cast- together the two brothers managing to conjure up an effectively distinctive feel of British bleakness- imagine Mike Leigh making a slowly uncurling, moody and at times tense suburban thriller, and youíll get an idea what Kaleidoscope is like.

Here from Sparky Pictures is a recent release of the film, which is appearing as either DVD or digital download- Iím reviewing the DVD, which features a cast & crew commentary, storyboards, stills & trailer.
 
 
The film opens with Carl(Jones) awaking on his sofa looking bedraggled- and similar scenes to this recur thorough-out the film, as it cleverly blurs past & present, with paranoia & doubt- and what unfolds over the just over hour & a half runtime, is a deliberately paced- yet- gradually tightening thriller. Carl is a meek & social awkward man who lives on the top floor of a tower block- he has few if any friends or relatives- thereís pretty much just his caring Afro-Caribbean female neighbour,  and his manipulative & often mocking mother- played wonderful by seasoned British actress Anne Reid. Fairly soon the bubbly & brash Abby (Sinead Matthews) drops into Karlís life, when she comes back to his flat after meeting him at a club- and from here just like a Kaleidoscope things start to blur, shift, and cascade as weíre never sure what we are seeing is in the past, present & how much is down to Karlís self-doubt, and imagination. I wonít detail too much more of the plots unfold- as this is the type of film you need to come into unknowing- so Iíd also suggest not watching the trailer either as it does give away some of the films more shocking/ key scenes.
 
The flat, which is the film's main setting, is used to great bleak-to-creepy effect and this, of course, is a great backdrop to Toby Jones naturalistic & masterfully acting- as he switches between nervy & awkward, onto panicked & manic,  through to down beaten and forlorn. And really the film keeps you guessing/ wondering what the real outcome is until its last few minutesÖand even then itís nothing grand or flashy- with the film starkly slipping away just as it started. All in all, Kaleidoscope stands as some of Toby Jones best work, and I canít think of any other presently active actor who could have done this role- as it seems tailor-made for his talents.
 
The commentary track features the Jonesís brothers, Ann Reid, and one of the film's producers. Itís a decidedly sporadic track that broken up by fairly long pauses, though it does offer up some interesting tidbits regarding the film's location, shot choice, soundtrack & themes. The DVD print looks good, as it should with a modern film, with the sound design and use of the modified harp & string soundtrack nicely adding to the films forlornness.
 
 
Iíve been a fan of Toby Jones's work for a few years now, and try & see most of what he appears in, and this is a high watermark in his career thus far. If you enjoy slow & stark yet compelling thrillers with a glum down-trodden English feel then I think you'll also very much enjoy Kaleidoscope- and I very look forward to seeing what Rupert Jones  does for his next film.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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