Me and Orson Welles (12A)

Film

Drama

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Dec 1 2009

We first meet Zac Efron’s Richard, the ‘me’ of Richard Linklater’s charming new film about the insecurities and comradeship of actors, as a distracted, 17-year-old New York student, reading Noël Coward in class instead of Shakespeare. It’s 1937 and Richard is a mildly cocky, slightly vain youngster who compares himself to a photo of John Gielgud on a book cover and tells a girl he meets in a jazz store that ‘I’m sort of an actor’. Minutes later, he stumbles on some real actors  gathered to rehearse Orson Welles’s Mercury Theatre production of ‘Julius Caesar’ and lays down some chat about playing the ukulele. Next thing, he’s got a bit part. Weekly pay: zilch. ‘Kid’s got balls,’ mutters Welles (Christian McKay), a cigar between his teeth. Let rehearsals begin…

Robert Kaplow’s source novel and Linklater’s sprightly adaptation sprinkle a little fiction on Welles’s very real, radical staging of ‘Julius Caesar’ and offer a sideways view of one of the most precocious, flawed talents of the twentieth century. In 1937, Welles was just 22, pre-‘War of the Worlds’, pre-‘Citizen Kane’, but already a darling of the New York theatre scene and able to wrest art from chaos on a wing and a prayer. Efron’s Richard – played with an attractive, puckish energy and loosely based on a real character – is a window on Welles’s world at just enough of a distance from the great man that the director’s loud personality doesn’t dominate. All roads lead  to Welles, but we also witness a brief affair between Richard and Mercury staffer Sonja Jones (Claire Danes), during which Richard learns that the public and the private are one and the same in this theatrical hothouse. Even the loss of his virginity infringes on Welles’s mantra: ‘There is one simple rule: I own the store!’

McKay’s turn as Welles is hugely enjoyable, the right mix of extreme confidence and a dash of vulnerability. Physically and vocally, he’s very convincing: his Welles is a bullish presence among his actors but he also displays cracks in the great man’s armour: he whispers a sincere ‘thank you’ to his producer (Eddie Marsan) and tells Richard how he’s adapting ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’ for radio: ‘“Ambersons” is about how everything gets taken away from you,’ he says, a reminder that Welles lost both parents by the time he was 15.

What’s most admirable about Linklater’s production is that it never loses sight of the play at its heart. The crescendo is not a romance or any other distraction, but the outcome of rehearsals during which we and the cast believe a disaster is pending. There’s a strong ensemble flavour, characterised by the simultaneously selfish and clubbable tendencies of the actors, which makes for a lightly comic experience but also for a portrait of a theatre company that feels warm and true.
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Release details

Rated:

12A

UK release:

Fri Dec 4, 2009

Duration:

114 mins

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.6 / 5

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LiveReviews|12
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John Cooper

Watching this film helps you understand why Orson Welles is one of the most overrated film directors of all time, and why Citizen Kane is the most overrated film of all time. If the biographical detail in this film is accurate, we are asked to accept that` being a genius `and `being an amoral shit` are part and parcel of the Orson Welles persona. Christian McKay 's Orson Welles so convincing that I forgot that the egotistical bastard on the screen is just an interpretation. Zac Efron's character Richard is extremely sympathetic and it is through his eyes, that we see the vanity and the spiritual emptiness which is at the heart of the technically proficient and charismatic Welles character. I've always wondered why a dull, unappealing film like Citizen Kane is revered by film critics. so many critics . .. . . This film has helped me understand why . .. . Technically innovative, but too concerned with its own importance . .. like Welles himself.

Walter

Totally engaging film and a fascinating look back stage of one of the landmark theatre productions. Amazing cast, led by McKay, And Efron is a total surprise. I forgot he was in the film, he so totally disappeared into the character.

Walter

Totally engaging film and a fascinating look back stage of one of the landmark theatre productions. Amazing cast, led by McKay, And Efron is a total surprise. I forgot he was in the film, he so totally disappeared into the character.

jennycee

Good acting especially "Orson" and the finished article,"Ceasar" was great but the film was a nonentity, no plot, no excitement, boring with a capital B

Peter Roberts

If you fancy yourself as a luvvy you might enjoy this film, but if you are a mere fleah and blood mortal you will be bored witless. No plot. Excessive over-acting. Dull, dull, dull.

tonybolger

Outstanding, smart, witty and moving film. Terrific performances. One of years most enjoyable.

Adam

Just saw the film tonight. A light breezy comedy, with a great soundtrack and strong, likeable acting - go enjoy!

Adam

Just saw the film tonight. A light breezy comedy, with a great soundtrack and strong, likeable acting - go enjoy!

Luise Susette

I attended the London premiere and thought the film was fantastic. It's hard to say if it's a drama, a romance or a comedy - I think it's all of these things and more. It offers the right balance of seriousness and entertainment - and very skillfully. One of those films that may inspire one to consider their own possible career in the theatre.

Luise Susette

I attended the London premiere and thought the film was fantastic. It's hard to say if it's a drama, a romance or a comedy - I think it's all of these things and more. It offers the right balance of seriousness and entertainment - and very skillfully. One of those films that may inspire one to consider their own possible career in the theatre.