Me and Orson Welles (12a)

Feb 16, 2011
Cranbrook Film Society

The ‘me’ of the title is a seventeen year-old high-school student, Richard Samuel (Zac Efron) through whose eyes we see the story. It is November 1937 and Richard goes on a trip into New York City where he comes across the Mercury Theater. The twenty-five year-old Orson Welles is putting on a production of Julius Caesar, set in Mussolini’s Italy. Welles offers Richard the part of Lucius after an impromptu audition. Welles’s flamboyant personality and monstrous ego (later to become legendary) dominate the production.

Linklater manages to recreate the style and atmosphere of the original production and captures the whole claustrophobic world of the theatre astonishingly well. He also succeeds in showing how close to disaster Welles’s Julius Caesar came before he managed to turn it into a triumph. Christian McKay’s rendition of Welles is one of the best: we can understand how this young man, shown here at the start of his career, became one of the most charismatic figures in twentieth-century filmmaking, loved and/or hated by everyone who worked with him.

Born in Texas in 1960 Richard Linklater emerged, self-taught, from the American independent film renaissance of the 1980/90s. He left university to work on an oil rig before moving to Austin, Texas where he started to work on his first film, It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books (1988), followed by Slacker in 1991. Many of his films explore what he called “the youth-rebellion continuum”, the action often taking place in a 24 hour period. He is a prolific writer and director. His films include Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2003), both shown by CFS in recent years.

Cast: Ben Chaplin, Christian McKay, Claire Danes, Eddie Marsan, Kelly Reilly, Zac Efron, Zoe Kazan

Richard Linklater | UK | 2008 | 114 minutes | 12a


            Weighted vote 86.4%