Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Young Orson Welles

"Me and Orson Welles"

Everybody denies I am a genius - but nobody ever called me one!

- Orson Welles

I thoroughly enjoyed Richard Linklater's new film "Me and Orson Welles" at the Webster Place 11 Theaters. It brought to life the young Orson Welles during the week before his exciting premiere of "Julius Caesar" at the newly formed Mercury Theater in New York City. He was already well-known as a radio personality but this is well before his triumph at RKO with Citizen Kane and other films (there is a neat moment of foreshadowing his future film interests when he reads from Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons to young Richard Samuels while riding in a cab). The film time is set in post depression era New York where the young student Richard (Zac Efron) goes to New York to get a start in the theater and bluffs his way into Welles' (Christian McKay) Mercury Theater, getting the role of Brutus' slave Lucius. During this week Richard will find romance with a worldly older woman, become immersed in a creative experience few are afforded and learn the downside of crossing the imperious, brilliant Welles. The film only hints at the multi-talented character of the man who created the grand-daddy of media hoaxes, directed films that re-directed the path of world cinema and was a fantastic magician, but Christian McKay's portrayal energizes the film as he becomes Welles. The other members of Welles' Mercury Theatre, Joseph Cotten, George Coulouris, Norman Lloyd And John Houseman were all present in this lovely film. Ben Chaplin's performance as George Colouris was particularly good as he almost has a nervous breakdown moments before going on stage as Mark Antony. Of course, Welles and his whole troupe share an immense triumph on the evening of the premiere, but the show really belongs to Orson Welles alone, while young Richard learns some lessons in life and love in the process. This was a lovely entertaining film that I heartily recommend to all.

No comments: