Is the brilliantly crafted ‘Kaleidoscope’ too taken with its puzzle of murder and reality?

Brothers Rupert and Toby Jones collaborate on the claustrophobic, psychological puzzle “Kaleidoscope,” with Rupert behind the camera, and Toby playing the mysterious ex-con Carl. The film is structured much like the children’s trinket, looping fragments of images and timelines into, around and on top of each other, reflecting the broken loops of our protagonist’s own reality.

Carl lives in a council estate and works as a gardener. He’s friendly with his neighbors and eager to branch out into the world of online dating. When wild child Abby (Sinead Matthews) comes over one night for an evening of drinking and dancing in Carl’s apartment, his tenuous grasp on reality seems to slip away. His mother, Aileen (Anne Reid), comes to visit, ingratiating herself into Carl’s space. Is she there, or is she a projection of his imagination and fears? What’s real and what’s not is never really clear, especially as a murder investigation unfolds, and Carl’s violent visions loop back around again and again.

“Kaleidoscope” is brilliantly crafted and performed, but it’s a bit too taken with its own muddling of facts and form to truly hook into. There isn’t much of a shred of truth to keep the viewer steady — we never truly know what happened, if our hero is a murderer or not, or what’s going on in that apartment. This experiment in obfuscation goes a bit too far.

No rating

Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood

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