Directed by Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen. Starring Robert Evans.
So you want to make a documentary about the life of legendary Hollywood film producer, Robert Evans. But there's just one snag - the available archive footage would barely yield a ten-minute profile, never mind a feature-length theatrical release.
Rather then giving up, Burnstein and Morgen have combined digital photographic effects, archive footage and clips from Evans' incredible roster of movies to create a compelling film that tells a remarkable story, using a visual language so rich and distinctive that it will surely spawn a raft of imitators.
From ham actor to studio boss, then to cocaine-addicted wreck who gets entangled in a murder, this account of Robert Evans rise, fall and (partial) redemption wisely avoids any pretence of impartiality. Instead, the film opens with a telling quote. "There are three sides to every story. My side, your side, and the truth". And this is the Robert Evans' side of the story, edited to fit into a 90-minute movie.
And what a movie it is. 'The Kid Stays in the Picture' is crammed with anecdotes, centred on the man whose toothy grin and overwhelming self-confidence make Tom Cruise look like Johnny Vegas. Evans was discovered at a Beverly Hills swimming pool by screen legend Norma Shearer who felt he would be ideal to play her late husband, Irving Thalberg, the child-prodigy producer of Hollywood's Golden Age. Before long he had become Hollywood's hottest young producer himself, guiding Paramount from the doldrums to the position of number one studio on the back of hits such as 'Rosemary's Baby', 'Love Story' and 'The Godfather'.
In the meantime, he was the most elegant charmer in California and worked his way through crowds of Hollywood beauties before falling in love with Ali McGraw. By the 1980s, his career was in serious trouble, he'd been ousted from his studio and ensnared in a drug-bust.
The material is fantastic, but 'The Kid Stays in the Picture' is a technical treat as well. The digital effects treatments of the photographs are wonderfully innovative, and the shots taken specially for the project in Woodlands, Evans' Beverly Hills Mansion are magnificent.
Woodlands was Evans' San Simeon, and it serves as a striking visual metaphor for his state of mind, shining and resplendent in the glory days, shabby and thick with autumn leaves during his downfall. The story is fascinating, particular for Hollywood history buffs, while the realisation is brilliant enough to win over the neutrals. 'The Kid Stays in the Picture' is a worthy addition to Robert Evans' enviable movie CV.