Rewind Review: Me and Orson Welles


As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me, know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those articles or reviews may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy!

Me and Orson Welles

When a film is called Me and Orson Welles and it deals with a fictionalized reality as an audience member it is very difficult not to get sidetracked by the artifice of recreating a reality and how accurate we interpret that reality to be. It can be extraordinarily easy to be distracted by props, sets and the casting decisions. This film never allows that to become a focus because all those decisions are so spot on that you are allowed to fall softly into the story as if you were falling into a down comforter.

Through the course of it you almost need to remind yourself that these are interpretations of the historical figures and that they are wonderful because the tale takes over in full force. To bring to a close this portion of the discussion Christian McKay is absolutely uncanny in his portrayal of Orson Welles. He is made to look like him and what’s most important he sounds a great deal like him. Similarly Joseph Tupper playing the important supporting role of Joseph Cotten was as impressive.
What truly works in this film is that you see the tale through the eyes of a youth instead of having Welles being front and center. It makes it a memoir, albeit a fictionalized one and less of a biopic which has completely different trappings. It also gives us someone to sympathize with, another character who is also, for the most part, observing the proceedings. However, that task is no easy one and is deftly handled by Zac Efron. It is another example of Richard Linklater having absolute confidence in the tale he’s telling and not being worried about the association a casting choice might create. As much as School of Rock is a Jack Black movie watch Black’s other work and you’ll see Linklater had much to do with it.

Efron, however, is by no means a prop. Yes, he does sing on occasion here but he is also the engaging eye through which we view this tale. The end of the film is somewhat open but what is pleasurable is that a subplot that easily and unobtrusively inserts itself in each act is resolved as its end-piece. What is also thrilling to witness is the recreation of the production of Julius Caesar which is not only well-shot, well-edited and also narratively tells the tale and gives you a sense of the accomplishment this is based of rehearsal scenes and also the tremendous success the show. This sequence is even humorously capped with Welles waiting for his curtain call saying “How do I top this?”
Having mentioned the sets, costumes and props earlier each of them was great in this particular production. Sets in particular because street scenes were shot in England. The props shine almost immediately with Efron flashing a train ticket. The costumes were also spot on, they typically only are noticed in period pieces because people want to believe they’ve been transported in time and that accuracy is important but bad decisions are noticeable and there are none here in that regard.
As enjoyable as it is, there is the duplicity of the tale towards the end and also it does get a little long in the tooth in the second act but overall it is very much worth the time and quite an exciting venture.