Kaleidoscope short film review

★★★★

Directed by: #NicolePott

Written by: #StutiNair

Starring: #HarryTayler, #IanVirgo, #CressidaCooper

Film Review by: #DarrenTilby



Nicole Pott perfectly picks apart the dynamics of domestic violence in her short film, Kaleidoscope. Told from the point-of-view of one of the 130,000 children in the UK who live in households with high-risk domestic abuse.


7-year old Conan (Harry Tayler) is excited about his birthday. He's even more excited when his fun-loving Papa (Ian Virgo) arrives home, and he runs downstairs to greet him. The connection between him and his Papa is plain to see, and it's clear that Conan looks up to him. Papa's enthusiastic, happy-go-lucky attitude makes him instantly likeable to the audience and all the more sympathetic once we're introduced to Mama (Cressida Cooper). Cold, indifferent and distant, Mama just doesn't seem to have the time for her family. But there's more going on here than meets the eye.


This tired and banal family dynamic had plagued our screens for decades, particularly during the early 90s. Indeed, the idea of the mother always being straight-laced, proper, even boring, while the father is portrayed as carefree and fun hasn't aged well. However, It's this preconceived cliché that Kaleidoscope plays on with such devastating efficiency.


The cast sells it well: Ian Virgo bursts through the front door of his house and fills the screen with charisma, enthusiasm and charm. “What a great dad”, we're led to believe. Conversely, Cressida Cooper hangs constantly by the edge of the screen with her back to the camera, giving us and her husband the cold shoulder and never really involving herself with her child. In fact, so disinterested is she, it's a good few minutes until we even see her face. And in the middle of all this is young Harry Tayler, who provides the emotional core of the film, and whose childhood innocence is broken so completely during the third act.


The stellar performances are complemented by a really solid script and competent film-making throughout. But it's the character and storyline writing (from Stuti Nair) that really stands out here. The character arcs are totally at odds with what you might expect from the initial set-up, whilst the narrative tries – on several occasions – to warn us about the elephant in the room. All with a frighteningly naturalistic flair.


Kaleidoscope is a really well-made piece. Heart-breaking and poignant: Kaleidoscope is well directed, well written and the performances are scarily realistic. But more importantly, it shows a different facade, indeed, an all the more sinister aspect, of domestic violence. Making it clear that anyone can be an abuser.