Sounds reasonably interesting, yes? Trouble is, I've just told you the entire movie. Conway's bizarre adventure—he died in late 1998, just a few months before Kubrick himself—made for a fascinating Vanity Fair article, but neither Frewin nor Cook seems to have recognized the yawning dramatic abyss at its center. Stories about con artists usually make a fetish of their subject's ingenuity, allowing us to take vicarious pleasure in his wiles. But Conway had no wiles, and his marks' tabloid-fueled gullibility only holds your attention for so long. Again and again, the impostor sidles up to a stranger at a bar or restaurant, makes a few pointedly weary remarks about what a trying day it's been working on his latest picture, answers the inevitable question, smiles softly at his pigeon's astonishment and accepts his financial/sexual largesse. It's rather like watching the auditions for the movie, with the same scene repeated ad infinitum with different actors (including Richard E. Grant and famed British comedian Jim Davidson) reading opposite Malkovich each time.
Indeed, Malkovich himself seems bored by the endless wheel-spinning—so much so that he adopts a new fake-Stanley persona every few minutes, providing each interaction with a uniquely outrageous accent (my favorite sounds like an unholy cross between Charlton Heston and Carl Sagan) and a fresh cavalcade of fey mannerisms. Why the real Conway should have gone to the trouble of concocting a dozen wildly different interpretations of a man few had ever met—especially given that his first attempt evidently worked just fine—is never explained, much less explored. But, then, Colour Me Kubrick has no real interest in Conway as anything more than an amusing anecdote and a fatally muddled conceit. With a little imagination and some creative license, this improbably successful bad liar might have served as a funhouse mirror reflecting the warped hopes and desires of an entire nation, much as Chance the gardener did in Jerzy Kosinski's Being There. That approach, however, demands a writer.