Reviews

Me and Orson Welles

Image

The Details

Me and Orson Welles
Three
Zac Efron, Christian McKay, Claire Danes.
Directed by Richard Linklater.
Rated PG-13. Opens Friday.
Beyond the Weekly
Official Movie Site
IMDb: Me and Orson Welles
Rotten Tomatoes: Me and Orson Welles

Presented with a movie called Me and Orson Welles, one can’t help but immediately wonder who “me” might be. Joseph Cotten? John Houseman? Paul Masson? Alas, in this case it turns out to be a snot-nosed kid named Richard, played by Zac Efron at his twinkliest. Set in 1937, when Welles—just 21 himself, and not yet a filmmaker—was rehearsing the Mercury Theatre’s legendary fascist-inflected production of Julius Caesar, this adaptation of Robert Kaplow’s novel focuses not on the great man but on poor hustling Richard, who happens by the Mercury one day and gets drafted to play the small role of Lucius. Needless to say, he gets a crash course not just in stagecraft but also in the care and feeding of titanic egos, especially when he develops a crush on the comely assistant (Danes) with whom Welles is having a casual affair.

Without looking at the credits, you’d never guess that this trifling period piece was directed by Richard Linklater, as it boasts neither the intimacy of a Before Sunset nor the manic energy of a School of Rock. Indeed, the whole movie is little more than an exercise in imaginative nostalgia, and the only real reason to see it is to enjoy British actor Christian McKay’s uncanny Welles impersonation—he gets the young Welles’ amused imperiousness exactly right, both in the timbre of his voice and in that single cocked eyebrow. Every time McKay leaves the screen, the movie immediately wilts. Orson Welles and who?

Share

Previous Discussion:

  • From Avengers: Endgame to Toy Story 4 to Tarantino and beyond.

  • The event’s 12th edition runs April 28 through May 4 at the Palms and Downtown’s Inspire Theater.

  • This year’s event features another packed lineup of short films, with more than 120 selections spread over 20-plus thematic programs and four days.

  • Get More Film Stories
Top of Story