Sunday, 19 December 2010

Film Review: ME AND ORSON WELLES (2008)

Director: Richard Linklater
Running time: 107 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12

UK release date: 4th December 2009

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 19th December 2010.


This is a film about a play, or should I say the putting on of a performance of a play. The play in question is Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare and the man directing and starring in it is none other than Orson Welles. For me, the actor playing the part of Welles, Christian McKay, totally steals the show, but more of my thoughts later, here’s a brief summary first (summary haters please wait in the wings while I write the next paragraph).
The setting is New York in the year 1937 where student and aspiring actor Richard Samuels lands himself a small part in Welles’s production of Caesar. He immediately strikes up a friendship with director’s assistant, Sonja Jones. We are taken through all the trials and tribulations of rehearsals leading up to opening night. Welles is a bit of a philanderer and Sonja is ambitious and the two are seen to be drawn together, much to the dismay of Richard. As opening night approaches the tension builds and Richard takes some advice from Joseph Cotton, another cast member. He is advised to ‘fight for her’, but is it too late?... I guess I’d better leave my summary here, don’t want to give the game away do I.

This film was made on a small island between Britain and Ireland in the middle of the Irish Sea called the Isle of Man (apologies to those that already know this). As such, I find it remarkable that it felt like 1930’s New York! Full marks to the production team on this one. As I said at the beginning, for me, the standout performance came from Christian McKay as Orson Welles (Brutus in the play). He really nailed the part, most excellent work! I guess I have to give honourable mentions to; Zac Efron as Richard Samuels (Lucius), Claire Danes as Sonja Jones, Ben Chaplin as George Coulouris (Mark Antony) and Zoe Kazan as Gretta Adler.

For me, apart from the performance of Christian McKay and the showing of the play, which was excellent, I didn’t really get a lot from this film. The rest of it was kind of ok, but nothing great. I didn’t find the relationship between Richard and Sonja believable and that made the rest of the story fall kind of flat (for me). It’s still worth a viewing, but don’t expect great things. Recommended (with reservations).

My score: 6.7/10

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