Dir: Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, A Scanner Darkly)
Cast: Zac Efron, Christian McKay, Claire Danes, Ben Chaplin, Eddie Marsan
Reason to see: Films about theatre always to on the must see list
People are loving Christian McKay as Orson Wells in Me and Orson Wells, his performance has already received 2 nominations: Independent Spirit Award nomination for Supporting Actor and British Independent Film Award nomination for Most Promising Newcomer. I think maybe you need to know more about him than I do to really appreciate the performance on that level, although thought his performance was strong but I never found the character that likable which I find a barrier - even if it's a 'true' portrayal.
The film did have the tenacity of 'somehow, we will make it happen!' theatre vibe which is always great to watch, but this behind the scenes theatre perspective felt not along the lines of believing in the magic of theatre but rather like seeing the con. Again, this may very well be true in this situation but it's not as easy to connect to. There was also a general aloofness especially concerning other peoples attitude towards Zac Efron's character Richard, who makes his way into the real scene of theatre on charm and guts. His performance is solid as the newcomer on the scene, learning not only more about theatre but also life in general. Iwas hoping for a bit more but will still look forward to seeing what he does in the future.
There were two actors in the film that did really knock it out of the park though. Eddie Marsan (Happy-Go-Lucky, The Disappearance of Alice Creed) plays the theatre manager, the voice of reason (something you never want to hear in theatre) and he does a great job. Who really lit up the screen was Ben Chaplin (Birthday Girl, Murder by Numbers), even though he isn't in the film a lot he stole the show every time he appeared, so much so I wanted to stand up and point to screen and say "This! This is an actor!". He was fantastic.
I did find it a little strange that for a film that I'd assume is directed towards a primarily female audience has some content that wasn't in the best taste, it's subtle and wouldn't blip on a censor sheet but seemed a little out of place in the spirit of the film. Other than that I thought that it had interesting characters who are witty, charming and even endearing and you do care about them and their journey, so for that I think it's a good pick for an enjoyable drama.
- Deleted Scenes (Option 1: without deleted scenes from the play) 6 scenes (4 minutes)
- Deleted Scenes (Option 2: with deleted scenes from the play) 10 scenes (13 minutes)
- The Mercury's Caesar (12 minutes) - this is a lovely accompaniment to the DVD as it strings together scenes of the characters acting out the play Julius Caesar set within the film.
- The "Making of" Me and Orson Wells (6 minutes) - interviews with Holly Gent Palmo & Vincent Palmo Jr (writers of the books the film is based on), director Richard Linklater, producers Ann Carli & Marc Samuelson, costume designer Nic Ede, and actors Zac Efron, Christian McKay, Eddie Marsen and Claire Danes on everything from inspiration to casting to creating a period piece and locations.
- The Real Orson Wells (5 minutes) - interviews with Holly Gent Palmo & Vincent Palmo Jr (writers of the books the film is based on), director Richard Linklater, producer Ann Carli and actors Christian McKay, Eddie Marsen, Ben Chaplin and Claire Danes on Orson Wells along with film footage and stills.
- The Gate Q&A (20 minutes) - extensive post-screening Q&A with Jason Solomans with director Richard Linklater and actors Christian McKay, Zac Efron and Claire Danes.
Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it drama fans
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© Shannon Ridler, 2009-2010
Originally reviewed for Theatrical Release - December 11, 2009
Christian McKay and Zac Efron in Me and Orson Welles
Zac Efron in Me and Orson Welles
Christian McKay in Me and Orson Welles