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Friday, December 11, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW
Me And Orson Welles

The Big Show And The Stagecraft Behind It


Christian McKay, excellent as OrsonWelles, and Zac Efron as Richard Samuels in "Me
And Orson Welles", directed by Richard Linklater.  The film opened today in San Francisco.
   Freestyle Releasing

By Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com
Friday, December 11, 2009

Bursting with life, energy, passion and love, the sensational "Me And Orson Welles" is one of the year's great and most entertaining triumphs.  The eclectic filmmaker Richard Linklater directs a gem about one actor's time in the Orson Welles' acting troupe in 1937.

As played by Christian McKay, Orson Welles the man, the megalomaniac and genius is brought vividly to life.  Though Mr. McKay's role is essentially a lead he's almost certain to be remembered come Oscar time in a supporting capacity for his excellent work.  He's a scenery chewer, but secreted deep within his towering work are traces of his character's insecurity that only occasionally arise.

Zac Efron wonderfully portrays Richard, a young and talented artist who can sing, act and basically stand on his head while frying an egg on his feet in the hot sun.  Richard appears to be no match however for Welles, whose brisk, vigorous and vituperative nature wears thin on a lot of the troupe at Welles' famous Mercury Theater Company, where he's fine-tuning Julius Caesar for its big New York City opening.

Clare Danes is great here as Sonja, a smart, sharp-tongued and decisive older woman who knows the lay of the land and with whom Richard falls in love.  Richard essentially has one week to straighten up and fly right in order to survive the grueling, break-neck pace that Welles employs.  It will be an education that he will never forget.

"Me And Orson Welles" is a sunny, very funny experience and Mr. Linklater directs it with a "you are there" immediacy.  He has an amazing ear and capacity for recreating the chaotic atmosphere that is the stage world, remaining true to both the essence of the time and place surrounding it.  Mr. Linklater, who has directed such wide-ranging efforts as "Slacker", "Before Sunrise", "Fast Food Nation" and "School Of Rock", is full of surprises and clever devices as he springs this charming and enjoyable entertainment upon us.

Special kudos must be given to the adapted screenplay written by Vince Palmo and Holly Gent Palmo, which is priceless and almost certainly the year's best.  Their remarkable script is based on Robert Kaplow's book of the same title.  There's a nice subplot involving an aspiring writer Gretta Adler (Zoe Kazan) who is looking to get her work published for the first time and the interplay between Richard and Greta, is sweet and endearing, all thanks to Mr. Efron (seen earlier this year in "17 Again") and Ms. Kazan, on screen in today's release in San Francisco of "The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee".

There are very good supporting performances by Ben Chaplin and Eddie Marsan in particular.  Mr. Chaplin plays a stage-shy performer who is readying for his role as Mark Antony in Caesar and Mr. Marsan is the Mercury Theater Company manager.  He is brilliant here.  But the star of this show is undeniably Mr. McKay and he's worth much more than the price of admission here.


With: Kelly Reilly, James Tupper, Leo Bill, Al Weaver, Iain McKee, Simon Lee Phillips, Simon Nehan, Imogen Poots, Patrick Kennedy.

"Me And Orson Welles" is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association Of America for sexual references and smoking.  The film's running time is one hour and 54 minutes.       


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