Me & Orson Welles
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What a whirl, what a world! High-schooler Richard Samuels lucks into a role in a daring Broadway production of Julius Caesar. Cues, staging, rehearsals, romance, rivalries: he has a lot to learn. And the first thing to learn is never upstage Mercury Theatre's genius director, 22-year-old Orson Welles.
Zac Efron wins hearts and applause as Richard, the Me of this celebratory curtain call for when dreams -- and the theater -- were big. Christian McKay offers an uncanny Welles, the imposing, impetuous center of Richard's exciting new universe. Claire Danes is the enterprising stage assistant drawn into both men's lives. And Richard Linklater (Before Sunset, The School of Rock) directs with the vibrant spirit of those for whom all the world is a stage. Bravo!
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The story goes as follows: Richard (Efron) is a bored schoolboy who miraculously talks his way into getting a bit part in an Orson Welles (Christian McKay) production of Caesar, at which point he is quickly shafted to the responsibility of Sonja (Claire Danes). Richard is clumsy, bouncing from one mishap (theatre sprinklers) to another (losing props), and is played well enough by Zac Efron that I forgot this was one of Disney's Golden Boys who are To Pretty to Be by definition, and enjoyed Zac Efron, the actor. Sonja answers phone calls, annotates novels and, driven by the ambition to actually get a paycheck for the work she does, goes on multiple dates with the men of the company - but strictly to get ahead, as she is the Only Sane (wo)Man in the movie.
And then there is Orson Welles. When he is on screen the film is interesting, engaging, and had me gnawing on my lip in anticipation, when he isn't it does lull a bit, but that could just be my perspective. Orson Welles has been called a prodigy, an egomaniac, a genius, a failure. Fistfuls of adjectives float around his name like clouds that could either lead to heaven's gates or burst and release buckets of water. He was just a man really, and Christian McKay plays him as such - a brilliant, artistic, charismatic man who could be immature, vain, amusing, terrifying and constantly at odds with someone or something.
Associates include Eddie Marsan as John Houseman, James Tupper as Joseph Cotten, Leo Bill as Norman Lloyd, and Ben Chaplin as George Coulouris as members of the Mercury Theatre.
This isn't historically accurate, it isn't a flawless film, and if you are looking for problems you will probably find one - but it is a great movie (great enough to snag a 4 star review from Roger Ebert), which provides a great performance by the man playing The Great Man.