A gifted impersonator (John Malkovich) takes on various guises of the film director Stanley Kubrick in order benefit financially from encounters with a host of unsuspecting victims. He finds he has quite a knack for this, despite knowing very little of the director\'s work.
Anyone who has seen a film with John Malkovich in it is well aware of the actor\'s ability to play eccentric characters, and not only that but to commit to them 100%: Being John Malkovich (1999), Shadow Of The Vampire (2000), Hitchiker\'s Guide To The Galaxy (2005), Making Mr. Right from 1987 (admittedly not one of his best...)
You have to hand it to him though as his performance in Colour Me Kubrick might just take the cake.
Malkovich plays a real-life con man Alan Conway aka Eddie Alan Jablowsky, a London travel agent turned conman. A seriously tormented and disturbed soul, Conway was eventually \"busted\" for impersonating reclusive movie director Stanley Kubrick for a number of years in London during the 1990s.
As Conway admitted once during an interview after being \"unmasked\", he \"really did believe\" that he was Kubrick, the filmmaker behind such seminal movies as 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange and Full Metal Jacket.
According to the film\'s writer Anthony Frewin (formerly a production runner on 2001) and the film\'s director Brian Cook (Kubrick\'s assistant director on Barry Lyndon, The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut,) Colour Me Kubrick is based on a \"tru-ish\" story...
No one had seen Kubrick in public for years making it the perfect scam for this flamboyantly gay, alcoholic \"con-queen\".
Dressed in \"clash-n-trash\", we witness Malkvoich as Conway mincing, drinking and fibbing his way into London nightclubs, people\'s lives and their bank accounts.
He changes accents as often as he changes his fabulously bad outfits, never locking on one solid persona for a moment.
In the end it is quite a tragic story with the humour diminishing as the film wears on. As Guardian journalist Andrew Anthony astutely pointed out in his March 1999 article, \"The Counterfiet Kubrick\",Conway was able to get away with such a deception simply because people needed him to fulfill it.
He filled the gap Kubrick left by not being a visible celebrity, by not playing the game we expect of the famous.
That is until the law, the truth and the media caught up with him...
(When Vanity Fair published an extensive article on Conway\'s exploits in August 1999, the jig - as they say - was finally up).
In one scene Malkovich wears eye shades with \"Tease Me\" written on them. That is really just what this movie is: a big fat tease. Don\'t go expecting a well-made true crime movie with a sophisticated script. Some of the performances are downright stodgy and the humour is often as cheap and tacky as Conway\'s make up.
It is very playful however, with director Brian Cook making many cheeky references to his former boss\'s canon of classics. But as a filmmaker Cook is no Kubrick.
In a way Colour Me Kubrick is under an awful lot of pressure; it is impossible to not expect Cook to deliver a film as masterful as something Kubrick himself might have made.
The problem is Conway\'s character is treated more like a cartoon than a real person.
Malkovich also kind of high jacks the film, clearly being allowed to improvise his way through scene after scene, stomping all over the script with his acting \"genius\". (More restraint might have served the drama of the film better). Admittedly all this is very funny but the joke wears off pretty quickly.
Colour Me Kubrick moves from playful farce to tedious in-joke, and is as messy as Conway\'s ever-changing accents.
Had the Cook and Co. taken the character more seriously - treating Conway as a three dimensional character rather than a caricature - they might have made a film Kubrick could have envied.