During his time on this earth, the acclaimed directing genius Stanley Kubrick was a fairly mysterious force, who pushed cinema to new limits, but also the people who worked for him. No more so than Leon Vitali, who starred in Barry Lyndon but made the somewhat strange decision to switch from being a jobbing actor to Stanley Kubrick’s right hand man, whose influence would appear quite emphatic yet unheralded.
There are many interviews with former colleagues, actors, producers who worked under Kubrick and talk of Vitali’s influence. Some are interesting and genial, particularly from the cast members of Full Metal Jacket that Viatli was influential in casting. As the story unfolds, it’s quite fascinating the roles Vitali adopted and learned to fulfil the various jobs Kubrick asked of him to learn and eventually master, from casting all the way to the cutting room. For Kubrick obsessives, it may appear as a fascinating insight into the mind of Kubrick and what Viatli brought to Kubrick’s work, but as an investigation into the mechanics and psychology of why someone would dedicate themselves so selfishly it barely scratches the surface. Interviews with siblings fail to shine any real relevant light. It feels throughout the director is not certain what direction to really probe about Vitali’s story. Too often it goes down alleyways only to abandon them. The filmmaking itself is at times amateurish. With some interviews are over lit, dialogue out of sync and editing so rushed you feel like you need hawk like attention to not miss out any information. Celebrity endorsements from the likes of Stellen Skarsgard feel meandering and out of place. It’s a shame that this documentary about a man who was a key cog in trying to make a director get the perfect picture frame by frame, would have a film about him that’s somewhat a bit of a hash job.