- James Mottram
- 6 November 2017
Toby Jones is directed by his brother Rupert in an ingenious psychological thriller
Toby Jones doesn't often claim leading parts, although when he does the results are usually quite special. Think of his role as the beleaguered sound engineer in Peter Strickland's Berberian Sound Studio, or his turn as Truman Capote in Infamous. Here, it takes his brother – writer-director Rupert Jones, making his feature debut – to foreground him, although any accusations of nepotism should be dismissed; the actor is ideally cast in this adeptly made psychological thriller, one that enjoys teasing and toying with audience perceptions.
Largely set in the protagonist's dingy flat, Jones plays Carl, a soft-spoken gardener who has recently been released from a spell in jail. Bar occasional visits with his neighbour Monique (Cecilia Noble), he doesn't have much of a social life, but that doesn't put him off trying his hand at online dating. Here he meets Abby (Sinead Matthews), an outgoing blonde who smokes, drinks and dances. Well, they say opposites attract, although it soon becomes clear that Abby has another motive for this liaison.
From here on, the narrative gets increasingly fractured as the film cuts back and forth, reflecting Carl's disturbed mind. There is violence, but perhaps not in the way you might expect, as events unfold in a deliberately oblique manner. Chiefly, there is an unwelcome encounter with Carl's estranged mother (Anne Reid), who arrives unannounced at the flat at the most inconvenient time.
While Jones is by turns sympathetic, menacing and unhinged – always acutely judging the tone of his performance – his brother directs with an assured hand. Some may find the puzzle structure troublesome, but this is a neat piece of filmmaking that dares to make viewers work for answers. With Kaleidoscope never letting its low budget hamper its narrative ingenuity, on this evidence, it's certainly worth keeping up with the Joneses.
Selected release from Fri 10 Nov.