First impressions are vital in person and on screen. Bailey Kobe’s The Caterpillar’s Kimono makes a stunning debut. Creative visuals and well-integrated music help drive this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story, Babylon Revisited. This 92-minute drama echoes in the minds of viewers and makes them question the persistence of the past and the nature of humanity.
After the death of his wife, Helen (Julie McNiven), Charlie (Joey Kern) swims against the current of his past, to prove that can care for his daughter, Norah (Hailey Sole). Marion (Mary Catherine Garrison), his wife’s sister, holds Charlie partially responsible for Helen’s death. The ambiguity surrounding Helens death stems from the subjectivity of memories. Marion and Charlie remember Helen differently but Kobe addresses both of their perspectives and illustrates the beautiful ambiguity of the past.
The film’s narrative unfolds against modern-day Las Vegas. Aside from showing that themes from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story are still relevant, Las Vegas provides a stunning visual montage. The inauthenticity of the city provides an ideal backdrop for a story about a man caught in the iron grip of his past.
Original music by Simone Benycar matches the tension onscreen and helps situate the film’s many flashbacks. Benycar’s music takes on a rippling quality and his melancholy themes recur at key points in the film. Yet, silence plays an important role in intensifying character’s interactions and engaging the viewer as well. Like Kobe’s cinematography, it has a subtle brilliance that adds to the film’s narrative without overpowering it.
The Caterpillar’s Kimono takes on a timeless and, at times, disorienting quality. Kobe contrasts sharp and blurred images to set the tone of dramatic scenes and highlight important moments. Another vital aspect of the cinematography is the interplay between light and dark. In close-ups, Kobe uses varying amounts of light to project emotions onto his characters and give insight into their thoughts. Kobe matches the shadows and brightness with varied camera angles and disorienting perspectives.
The film is startling with in that it does not evade the awkwardness of human interactions nor does it soften the realities of coping with change. Kobe’s sensitive treatment of human emotion strikes viewers and allows them to sympathize with his characters. Just as there is no distinct separation between the present and the past, Kobe’s brilliantly developed characters lack simple classifications.
The Caterpillar’s Kimono leaves many questions unanswered but does not feel incomplete. It allows viewers to ponder the depth of change and questions of authenticity. As in real life, the characters in The Caterpillar’s Kimono dances on the edge between good and evil as they try to escape the chains of the past.
Release date and distribution information are forthcoming. See The Caterpillar's Kimono website for more details