A multi-layered drama, Christina Kallas’ The Rainbow Experiment weaves a lot through its many characters and plot-lines. It’s hefty undertaking for a two hour drama and the film turns and twists as we watch the fallout from a classroom accident in a New York school. Kallas must be praised for this epic undertaking and while the film might not fully work, it’s an impressive piece of filmmaking from a low budget drama.
Kallas’ film begins with a school in chaos after a science experiment (the titular Rainbow Experiment) goes awry and a student is seriously injured. Teachers, pupils and parents attempt to understand what has happened and the accident serves as a catalyst for characters to get a grip on their lives and understand who they are and where they are going.
The Rainbow Experiment is Altmanesque in its overlapping characterisation, using split-screen and razor-precision editing to keep it moving along. Amongst many, we follow the school’s principal (Patrick Bonck) who fears the worst for his career and the school, the put-upon science teacher (Nina Mehta) who was in charge of the lesson where the accident occurred and Matty’s father (Swann Gruen) as he tries to get to grips with what happened. We’re guided through this by our narrator Matty (Connor Siemer), the boy injured in the accident and who is appearing in some sort of disembodied spirit form.
Kallas’ storytelling technique is excellent and while the film might be a touch too unwieldy, it is a well put together and fast paced piece. Some of the performances are great, while others often miss the mark, but not in a way that would torpedo the film (although I didn’t quite buy Connor Siemer as Matty’s young father). You’ll be reeling from the onscreen energy as Kallas takes us through the unfolding action. There’s a lot to digest here.
Far from perfect, but expansive in its vision, The Rainbow Experiment has enough elements to make it worth checking out.