Monday, 26 July 2010


Madman Films
Now Showing

In most US reviews for Richard Linklater's Me and Orson Welles, Christian McKay's name was rarely mentioned without the words 'Oscar nomination' closely following. A nod for Best Supporting Actor failed to materialise but as always, that says more about the Academy than the performance for McKay gives a towering one as the legendary man of stage, radio and screen, Orson Welles.

Linklater's film is more concerned with his theatre work at New York's Mercury Theatre. It's 1937 and Welles' troupe of actors are in rehearsals for a post-modern take on Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. And the play's the thing, as the Bard once wrote. But as much as Welles loves Shakespeare, he loves the sound of his own voice more: he's a control freak. But then how else could the man just four years later write, produce, direct and star in Citizen Kane, still considered by many to be the greatest film ever made?

We're introduced to the world of Welles and the theatre through the eyes of Richard (Zac Efron, moving ever slightly away from his teen heart throb status), a high schooler with aspirations of being an actor. He happens by the theatre one day while the troupe are on the street and lands himself a walk-on part in the production. Like everyone, Richard is seduced by the magnetic Welles but he's also taken with theatre go-to girl Sonja (a radiant Claire Danes). Thus begins a love affair with the theatre, and Sonya. And a rivalry, for Welles, too, has a thing for Sonja.

Linklater's film is a wonderfully enjoyable piece of period and nostalgia, the centrepiece of which is McKay's performance. Oscar may have poor taste (here's looking at you, Bullock!) but the BAFTAs (a nomination) and the San Francisco Film Critics (they awarded him their gong for Supporting Actor) know their stuff. Check him out for yourself.

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