by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & Color Me Kubrick & r & & r & Stanley Kubrick was born in Manhattan in 1928. Alan Conway, or Eddie Allen Jablowski, was born six years later in Whitechapel, London, England. By all accounts the two men weren't very much alike in looks or stature, certainly not in the timbre of their voices or, obviously, their accents. Conway was quite gay. Kubrick, as far as we know, wasn't.
Despite the dissimilarities, Conway flitted about London for much of the early '90s, posing as Kubrick in order, it seems, to get free drinks and sleep with various actors and artists. That's the tale Color Me Kubrick seeks to tell. It does so in very broad, shallow strokes, following Conway (John Malkovich) around as he cons a free cab ride here, some cigarettes there. It's a template that plays itself out a half-dozen times. Conway ingratiates himself, shows the person some fun, coerces him (always, the film suggests, a him) to part with money or vodka or sex and makes off.
The action is one-note, as is the psychological tenor. Conway seems fixedly pleased with himself at all times and filmmaker Brian Cook seems really pretty chuffed to be presenting it sans comment, spending more time alluding to Kubrick (through admittedly clever use of the filmmaker's old scores) than explaining his imposter.
Lacking any kind of psychological insight into Conway himself, the film's principle curiosity is how easily he's able to put people on. It's clear the guy has never met Kubrick and knows very little about him. Conway affects wildly different mannerisms for each person he dupes. Sometimes he's very coy. Other times he's boisterous. Sometimes seductive, others aloof. Sometimes he doesn't even bother to drop his British accent. Once he tosses on a Texan drawl, accepts a Mont Blanc pen unsolicited, then asks if the giver has a receipt.
The act of impersonation itself is fantastically brash and engaging at first, but ultimately the lack of psychological exploration renders flaccid a case study on megalomaniacal imposterism and the only thing that makes it possible: the extreme human need of ordinary people to feel important and valued. Not a complete loss, to be sure, but I have a feeling Conway had something to teach that Color Me Kubrick missed.