Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Me and Orson Welles

I’ve been a fan of Orson Welles and his movies for many years, so it’s no surprise that I’d watch ME AND ORSON WELLES, a backstage yarn from the point of view of a high school student and would-be actor who finagles his way into a part in Welles’ modern-dress Mercury Theater staging of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” in 1937. It’s a coming-of-age story, too, as the kid not only learns a lot about the theater and Welles’ eccentricities but also falls in love with the young woman who helps manage the troupe.


This is an old-fashioned movie, not flashy at all, well-written and very well-acted. Zac Efron is the kid, Claire Danes is the young woman he falls in love with, and Christian McKay, an actor I’d never heard of, turns in a spectacular performance as a young Orson Welles. McKay looks like Welles and does a good job on the voice, but mostly it’s a matter of capturing the attitude, the mixture of arrogance and brilliance that allowed Welles to accomplish the things he did. Also, knowing quite a bit about Welles’ later career, it was interesting to me to see the origins of some of the projects he tackled later on. The movie does a fine job of recreating the Thirties atmosphere, too.


Maybe it’s just because of the subject matter, but I think ME AND ORSON WELLES is one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Highly recommended.

6 comments:

Paul D. Brazill said...

I fancy seeing that. I was put off Linklater's films after Rock School, which I couldn't stand -although that was probably down to Jack Black.But, I did like Dazed &Confused and I do like Welles.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I liked it a lot too. And what a great job of playing Welles.

Cullen Gallagher said...

I love Welles but the trailer for this made me weary. Glad to hear it is worthwhile, I'll be checking it out.

bish8 said...

This became one of my favorite films of last year when we saw it in the theatre. I then read the novel on which the film is bnased and also enjoyed it. Zac Efron's performance is very good because he allows the actor playing Welles to chew the scenery with abandon without trying to upstage him.

James Reasoner said...

Efron's turned out to be a pretty good actor. I'm curious to see how he does in CHARLIE ST. CLOUD. There's a line in ME AND ORSON WELLES where he says something about being in a few shows at school that might be construed as being a little too in-jokey, but it's also the sort of line that might well have been in the source novel (which I haven't read).

MP said...

You're right, this is most enjoyable. McKay, who I'd also never seen, just nails Welles, and Efron was a lot better than I'd have expected. Every time I see Claire Danes I'm puzzled as to why she never quite became the big star I thought she'd be.