Me and Orson Welles (2010)

| 5 August , 2010 | Reply

Keeva Stratton, Quip Creative

Directed by: Richard Linklater
Starring: Claire Danes, Zac Efron, Christian McKay

Orson Welles is remembered as one of the more bold, egotistical, yet intensely talented, media craftsmen of the 20th century. Love him or leave him, his work was always interesting, challenging, and for many, possessed of pure artistic genius – (my perspective happens to skew in favour of the latter category). Tales of his significant creative presence deserve to be told, and the film Me and Orson Welles treats us to one such telling.

In this historical fiction, based on the novel by Robert Kaplow, we are taken back to the founding of the Mercury Theatre in New York City, circa 1937. Welles (McKay) is already a prominent figure, known for his theatrical and radio work, and he has taken on the task of bringing a modern incarnation of Julius Caesar to life. The story is told through the eyes of a young actor, Richard Samuels, (Efron) who lands himself a minor role in the play, following a chance meeting with the star director.

At 17, Samuels is young, naive and full of charm; and in this, his coming of age film, he is thrown into the exciting yet complicated adult world of the Mercury Theatre – a world that has its own share of real life drama in tangled romance and the harsh realities of making it as an actor. Samuels soon finds his charming ways being tested by the beautiful Sonja (Danes), who also works at the theatre, and is almost ten years his senior; and who is primarily concerned in building her career. Samuels falls hard and fast for Sonja, but she may have other priorities. Through Samuels, we also get to know Welles – his brilliance, arrogance and sheer ruthlessness.

McKay closely resembles Welles, with an eerie familiarity to the man himself. He captures a man whose capacious ego is pervasive, yet his vision and ability to execute its creative dictates manages to draw those around him into an almost obsessive state, putting up with mistreatment and being downright spat on, just to share a page in Welles\’ book. While few artists today could claim to have that magnetism born out of the artistic respect that Welles inspired, sadly, many have adopted his diva-like attributes.

This is a film about growing up. It\’s about those moments that shock us out of our innocence – both good and bad. It\’s a fun, witty and playful film, that uses the larger-than-life character of Welles to add an intriguing historical backdrop. Fans of radio drama will be tickled pink with the recreation of a live sound recording, and lovers of the theatre will have their historical thirst equally sated. A charming and enjoyable tale, with quality performances all round (including a mature effort from teen star Zac Efron), Me and Orson Welles is well worth the entry price.

Me and Orson Welles is currently screening.


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Category: Film & TV

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