Leon Vitali once had a promising acting career but gave it all up to become the faithful right hand man to director Stanley Kubrick, a real life role he played for decades as his boss’s “Filmworker.”
Laura's Review: B
Robin's Review: B
Documentary filmmaker Tony Zierra takes a fascinating subject – one which I was little familiar with, I am sad to say as someone who thinks he knows a lot about the movie making business – and brings you into the heart, soul and mind of Leon Vitali, probably the most unsung hero in the biz. Leon had a moderately successful career as an actor on British TV during the 1960s. Then, in 1975, he was cast as Lord Bullingdon in Stanley Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon,” and his long time desire to be in a Kubrick film morphed into a need to help the man in his work. This need would become a life where he was at the beck and call of the auteur 24X7. Director Zierra assembles Leon, his family, friends and fellow filmmakers, plus a treasure trove of photos, videos and Vitali’s personal notes and memorabilia of life with Stanley. Leon, himself, is an enigmatic character – a man who would dedicate his life to his mentor, no matter what, even at the cost of his own health. The film follows Vitali’s long career, first as an actor until the game changer. “Barry Lyndon,” brought him, for over twenty years, into the Kubrick world. And Leon proved, again and again, his loyalty and dedication to Stanley. Whatever Stanley wants, Stanley gets and Leon would do whatever job required. Vitali, just to give just a few of his jobs, was the talent scout who found young Danny Lloyd to play the boy in “The Shining.” (He found the twins, too.) He was Kubrick’s production photographer, videographer, sound designer, editor, actor (he played eight different roles in “Eyes Wide Shut”) and completed “EWS” following Kubrick’s death in 1999. What I got most out of “Filmworker” (the term Vitali used for his relationship with Stanley, not “assistant”) was her sheer dedication and loyalty he felt toward the man. The film also raises the question: Would Kubrick be Kubrick without Leon? It is a good question.