★ ★★ ★
Directed by: #GraceConley
Written by: #GraceConley
Kaleidoscope is a beautiful short film tackling self-worth and body image through the anatomy of colour and how the self is fractured into a wide diversity of emotion and senses, much like the iridescence of a kaleidoscope.
Narrated meaningfully and with an air of wistfulness, Conley articulates a poem of different colours throughout the film; the words of which directly inspire her unique and powerful performance as a character known simply as ‘Rain’. Paint is strewn carefully across her body representing a true collision of colour and feeling, much like how the self is made up of a representation of emotions – never one, but together. Each colour segment is short, yet powerful as Conley directs thoughtfully as to how the colour is represented to her. The shots are simple in design yet work beautifully with the soft narration over them, to create mesmerising scenes allowing the viewer to truly connect with the pain and intenseness of each individual colour.
One of the crowning efforts of the film is the wonderful sound design and original score by Willow Vass, who creates an alluring symphony of soft instruments to draw the viewer in as if they were in each scene themselves. The sound design compliments Conley’s performance perfectly: the sound of a finger pressing into the pulp of an orange; crunching of teeth into a leather purse; ripping and tearing grass from the earth. Each sound is crisp and pairs beautifully with the imagery, never distracting the viewer only luring them in further.
For a film with a small budget, the production design never detracts from each scene, rather each segment is highlighted by the colour it is representing in new and unique ways. Conley twists and morphs each colour to be used in different ways, whether that be through costumes and makeup, or the twilight sky itself – the colours are another beautiful highlight of this film. When a colour such as pink could have been used in a monotone way by a lesser filmmaker, Conley finds distinctive ways to show the range that the colour has to her, through flower petals and dresses and powerful imagery in the spoken word.
Conley also addresses the important theme of self-love and how unreachable it can often feel. A person, or a significant other, can induce these feelings of colour within you and create a kaleidoscope of beauty, but Conley deftly shows how this is not true self-love. Through a gripping monologue and one of the best shots I’ve seen in a student film, Conley finishes the short by truly understanding and communicating the utter need to want to feel good about your body for yourself, and for nobody else – a theme that is severely understated in the current media.
The only minor aspects of the short film that work less well are due to the budgetary constraints that Conley is working with. Some shots are slightly out of focus and a diversity in the camerawork may have improved some scenes, but these are minor complaints that can be improved with a larger budget and timescale, and more experience.
Grace Conley writes, directs, and stars in this beautiful student short film about one’s body, self-worth, and colour, and proves that without a doubt she is someone to keep an eye out for in her future projects. The level of detail and competency shown in her direction prove that she is a filmmaker with a clear talent, and the mature themes relevant to the current society make this an absolute must-see.
You can watch Kaleidocope on YouTube now!