Me And Orson Welles (PG)

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The ViewDunedin Review

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Review byMatthew Turner5/05/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 114 mins

Hugely enjoyable coming-of-age drama with a superb script and an Oscar-worthy performance from Christian McKay as Orson Welles.

What's it all about?
Directed by Richard Linklater, Me and Orson Welles is a fictionalized, albeit painstakingly researched, coming-of-age drama based on the novel by Robert Kaplow. Set in 1937 New York, the film stars Zac Efron as Richard Samuels, a 17-year-old wannabe actor who lands a job with the Mercury Theatre company, run by mercurial genius Orson Welles (Christian McKay).

After an impromptu audition in the street, Richard is delighted to be cast in Welles' production of Julius Caesar, alongside the likes of Joseph Cotton (James Tupper) and Muriel Brassler (Kelly Reilly). However, things get complicated when Richard falls for Orson's beautiful, ambitious but hard-to-get assistant, Sonja Jones (Claire Danes) and bets fellow actors Cotton and Norman Lloyd (Leo Bill) that he'll be the first to get her into bed.

The Good
Efron and Danes are both great and there's good work from a talented supporting cast that includes Eddie Marsan (as producer John Houseman), Ben Chaplin (as actor George Coulouris) and rising star Zoe Kazan (Revolutionary Road) as Gretta Adler, an aspiring playwright who befriends Richard in a record shop early on. However, the film is roundly stolen by Christian McKay (who'd previously played Welles in a one-man show), in a terrific, jaw-droppingly accurate performance (the physical resemblance alone is extraordinary) that is sure to land him a Best Supporting Actor nomination come Oscar time.

The Great
The script is excellent, crackling with great dialogue and perfectly capturing both the flavour of the 1930s and the feel of a backstage theatre company, whilst never losing sight of the central coming-of-age story. To that end, it's both emotionally engaging and frequently laugh-out-loud funny; it's also utterly charming in a pleasingly old-fashioned way.

Worth seeing?
Impressively directed, superbly written and brilliantly acted, Me and Orson Welles is an utterly charming, thoroughly entertaining drama that's sure to pick up a nomination or two come Oscar time. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 22/06/2018 04:02

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