Kaleidoscope - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Kaleidoscope Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ May 19, 2018
Well, this certainly would have been quite the movie to watch last Sunday for Mother's Day. Quite the movie indeed. It should be noted, however, that I've got a great relationship with my mother. I don't know if I'd say that we're the closest mother-son relationship in the world, but that doesn't mean that I'm still not close with her and that I don't appreciate everything that she's done for me and raising me as a single mother, which isn't always the easiest thing to do. Though, to be fair, my aunt had a bigger part in raising me than my own mother did (we all lived in the same house). And I'm not saying that as a negative in the slightest, it's just that my mom worked and my aunt didn't, so she took care of me whenever I was home. So, as a result, I'd say that I'm closer to my aunt than my mother but, in reality, I've got two mothers, which is a pretty sweet thing to have when, sadly, some kids don't have either of their parents. Having said that, and this goes for both my mother and aunt, there's always times when we don't get along. Maybe that's not even the right word, but there's times when there's disagreements. You think you should go right, when they think we should go left. Things of that sort. It doesn't diminish the affection you have for one another, but no family relationship is perfect. And, I guess, you could say that that's what the movie is about. First things first, honestly, this is gonna be one of those very divisive movies. Not that there's really anything confusing about the movie, at least in my opinion. It's about as straightforward a psychological thriller as you'll ever see. What I mean by that is that the movie tries to play it relatively close to its chest, for the most part, in regards to Carl's loosening grip on reality. You never really know what's really happening and what's not. One of my earliest theories, and I feel that this is something that most of you will assume yourselves, is that Carl's mother is, in fact, not actually alive. Either that or she's alive, but not actually there and every scene with Carl and his mother is a construct of Carl's own mind. I'll try not to say anything else, but who knows what's gonna happen as the review moves along. The divisiveness, in my opinion, comes in the fact that, for the most part, the movie takes place in Carl's apartment and nothing, really, seems to be happening for a big chunk of the movie. And it's not like the movie doles out information evenly. Carl meets up with a woman, she disappears and is found murdered (chopped up into tiny pieces) and that's it. The story definitely stalls at this point, which is when Carl's mother comes into the equation. You see bits and pieces of what happened that night that led to Carl murdering this woman, but, again, there's no information from this point on until the end of the film. And I felt that really held the movie back, honestly. I feel like this narrative was meant to be fairly shorter, like maybe 80 minutes at the most, but somehow it made its way to being almost all of its 99 minute running time. And the thing is that Carl's destructive (according to Letterboxd and it's definitely better than 'antagonistic, which I was gonna use) relationship with his mother is the main driving force for the narrative. There's absolutely no problem with that, of course. And, naturally, given certain...scenes in the flick, you can put the pieces together of what has happened. This might be spoiler-ish, but it's only a theory, since the movie never outwardly confirms (or denies) your theories, but let's just say that Carl's relationship with his mother was not an appropriate one. Let's be a little more straightforward, Carl's mother sexually abused him when he was a child. Again, technically speaking, this is just a theory and that's, really, an issue with this film. I get the idea of, maybe, leaving it all up to us to piece the puzzle together. But the puzzle is, pretty much, pieced together shortly after Carl's mother first appears. So the fact that the rest of the time, the movie plays with this 'did she or didn't she?' with Carl's mother for way too much and it ends up being a little repetitive to be honest. I would have loved to have found out more about the dynamics between the relationship between these two. Like maybe flashbacks to moments where Carl's mother indoctrinates him into thinking a certain way about his father. Or just anything about the two and what made their relationship the way it is here. Something...ANYTHING would have been better than what we got. It just seems that the movie tries to be suspenseful and mysterious when, really, all of that mystique is lost 20 or so minutes into the film. When that's the case, just flesh out the characters a little more, tell me more about them. Give me more concrete information because, again, it just sort of feels like they're going in circles doing the same thing over and over without any real sense of progression. And it's a shame too, cause Toby Jones is excellent (as he typically is) here. I'm not saying that his performance is laid to waste because, if there is a reason to watch this, it's because of Toby, it's just that I wish his performance would have serviced a movie with a better script. Anne Reid, Aileen (Carl's mother) is also excellent here and, again, I just wish the movie would have given their relationship more depth than what they got. Part of me was leaning toward giving this 3 stars, but I just don't feel comfortable with that. There's no real intrigue to the narrative, you can figure it out almost right from the start. If you remember the movie Stay, with Ryan Gosling, this has a similar vibe...that's all I'll say. The scripting is decent enough, but very repetitive. Characters don't really go anywhere and they keep doing the same thing over and over again. This is certainly a very competently made movie, the problem is not that it's poorly made, it's just how it's structured and its lack of answers in regards to the relationship between Aileen and Carl means that this is a bit of a slog to get through. There aren't many questions, but I just wish the movie didn't play this mysterious game about the nature of Aileen's abuse of Carl. She sexually abused him. We get it, but tell me more about these people. Don't just leave it at that. Ultimately, in spite of a couple of excellent lead performances, this was just disappointing. It wanted to be clever without knowing how to do so. It didn't fall flat, since some of this movie definitely worked, but it doesn't end up being anything more than just an average flick.
½ May 12, 2018
Wow. The performances are fantastic; easily worth 5 stars.
Not that they are any help in untangling the plot of this film. Maybe it's because I'm from the US but I found it very hard to figure out what actually happened vs what was in his mind. I also thought the pacing was excruciatingly slow. If someone could help me straighten out my confusion I would give this a higher rating.
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