Release Date (UK) – 4 December 2009
Certificate (UK) – 12A
Country – UK
Director – Richard Linklater
Runtime – 114 mins
Starring – Christian Mckay, Zac Efron, Claire Danes
High School musical iconic teen heartthrob Zac Efron attempts to takes a step outside the teen genre with this period piece from Slacker director Richard Linklater. He plays wannabee young actor Richard Samuels, who manages to charm his way into a part in what was to become Orson Welles legendary reproduction of Caesar that rescued the New York Mercury theatre in 1937. The film introduces cinema audiences to Christian Mckay, an actor discovered by Linklater from the theatre stage, who plays a thoroughly convincing Orson whilst Claire Danes is Mercury theatre secretary Sonja, who Richard is hopelessly in love with.
Me and Orson Welles, although featuring an American setting and cast, is a British production and this can be clearly seen in the attention to detail of the mise en scene. The period costumes and sets set the time period convincingly along with the light hearted historic soundtrack. The films main flaw is that there is a slightly too much screen time devoted to long drawn out scenes from Caesar which are occasionally irrelevant to the plot, rather than just using ones that involve the films main characters in some way. This suggests that Linklater may have filmed the whole play within the film as well as the plot scenes and perhaps couldn’t bear to not include many of these scenes.
Christian Mackay clearly outshines everyone else in the film, in a role he was born to play with his physical similarities to Welles, and copes well with a script that is occasionally bland and wooden. Efron tries to show he has grown up from his teen musical days but ultimately fails – his frequent gesture of pushing his hair behind his ears has still made the final cut and his character is still a schoolboy, despite him actually now being 22. Danes performance is nothing special, and other smaller cast members in the play perform much more convincingly and are a humerous treat to watch out for.
This is a perfectly watchable and enjoybale film and I’m sure Efron fans will be enthralled by his every move, but its not a stand out film and ultimately a disappointment from such a great director, as it lacks any real substance and is a bit of a dull bland watch.