The Caterpillar’s Kimono (2013) – By Philip Smolen

”Family quarrels are bitter things. They don’t always follow rules and they’re not like aches and pains. They’re more like splits in the skin that don’t heal because there isn’t enough material.” – Charlie

Charlie (Joey Kern) has arrived back in Las Vegas for the first time in several years. He left and went to rehab after his beloved wife Helen (Julie McNiven) died. While he didn’t physically cause her death, Helen’s sister Marion (Mary Catherine Garrison) believes that Charlie’s drunken and destructive behavior took a physical toll on her. While Charlie was away, Marion and her husband Lincoln (Ben Savage) took in and raised his daughter Norah (Hailey Sole). Now Charlie is striving to put his life back in order. His career is taking off again and he’s rebuilt his financial empire. There’s only one thing that would make it complete –being reunited with Norah. But since returning to Vegas, Charlie’s corrosive old friends Duncan (Brian Gallivan) and Lorraine (Aja Evans) have once again latched on to him. If Charlie is ever going to start his life over with Norah, he will have to navigate the shark-infested waters of Las Vegas and prove to Marion and Lincoln that he is indeed a changed man.

“The Caterpillar’s Kimono” is a new indie feature filmed entirely in Las Vegas by writer/ director Bailey Kobe. It’s based on “Babylon Revisited” a short story by the great F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the movie touches on some of his most famous themes – ambition, guilt, shame and redemption. It’s a moody, artistic and beautifully composed film and absolutely true to the spirit of F. Scott Fitzgerald. It’s genius on Kobe’s part to set the film in Las Vegas, the land of dreams and fantasies, although the town’s harsh realities are a cruel metaphor for Charlie’s life. As long as he stays in such a corrupt place, he will never change and be reunited with his beloved daughter.

The cast is simply electric. Joey Kern as Charlie displays the same emotional intensity as a young Leonardo DiCaprio did in many of his early film roles. Mary Catherine Garrison is a seething rage of anger and bitterness that’s kept bubbling under her thinly veiled façade of civility. Ben Savage has the thankless role of interpreting his wife’s emotions and telling Charlie want she wants, but he delivers all of his dialogue with a measured passion. Brian Gallivan and Aja Evans are wonderful as friends who have suckled on the poisoned teat of Las Vegas. They live simply to drag others down.

The film features a thoughtful and pensive music score by Simone Benyacar that successfully emphasizes the characters’ fragile emotions. There is also beautiful photography by Kobe and Greg Hadwick that captures the glittery fakeness of Vegas. “The Caterpillar’s Kimono” is a sturdy and compelling indie feature that hopefully will reach a wide audience. It resonated with me long after I shut my DVD player off.

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