Stylish British Noir Keeps Reshaping the Truth – Variety

The eponymous optical instrument gets a full symbolic workout in “Kaleidoscope,” an intricately crafted, infinitely wrongfooting psychological thriller in which conflicting realities coalesce, diverge and regroup like so many shifting formations of jewel-colored glass. A sharply styled debut feature for British writer-director Rupert Jones, this extended exercise in artful obfuscation feels the considerable benefit of a key family contact. Were it not for the ever-sympathetic, emotionally grounding presence of the helmer’s estimable older brother Toby in the lead — as a seemingly milquetoast ex-con entangled in an enigma-riddled case of murder — the film’s tricksy, collapsible is-it-or-isn’t-it structure would test the patience sooner. As it is, “Kaleidoscope” has the feel of a curt, clever short drawn out into a less complete calling card — some details catch the eye more than others, but we’ll surely be keeping the younger Jones’s number.

Though it’s set in a present day complete with with cellphone-dependent plot points, nearly everything else about “Kaleidoscope” seems painstakingly designed to evoke a late 1960s strain of semi-esoteric British cinema: from the sparse, glassy strains of Mike Prestwood Smith’s score, to the brutalist architecture of the east London council estate that houses the action, to the sagging, peeling mid-century modernism — in soiled shades of tea and ale — that dominates Adrian Smith’s fine production design. (Even the eye-wateringly patterned shirt our protagonist wears for a critical portion of proceedings has a faded sense of Swinging London to it.) But it’s the structure and tenor of the narrative itself, with its mix of circuitous repetition, elusive suggestion and hard culs-de-sac, that call to mind Joseph Losey in one of his more experimental moods — and in turn Peter Strickland, the contemporary British filmmaker most in thrall to that particular avant-garde phase. The presence…

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