Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Me and Orson Welles" (2009)

This is a title that could apply very well to yours truly, if it is one topic on which I count myself a perfectly pathetic cultist it is Orson Welles,
I wanted to like the film very much as it recounts a seminal moment in the Welles' legend, his 1937 modern dress version of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and indeed Christian McKay wisely opts to inhabit the Wellesian style rather than try to impersonate the great director in the fashion of Maurice LaMarche.
But a subplot involving Orson's entirely fictional teenaged protege played by Zac Efron and his short lived affair with Welles' long suffering secretary (Claire Danes) veers uncomfortably close to Cougartown if not statutory rape.
The last third of the film though is a wonderment as opening night of Caesar is recreated for the screen right down to the blackshirt uniforms, Caesar's assassination down to the death of Cinna the Poet at the hands of a fascist lynch mob, you suddenly get a sense of just how powerful Orson Welles' ideas really were when it came to enacting Shakespeare for the modern audience.
I'm sure there is more to Zac Efron than being a pin up boy, he did hold his own against Christian McKay and that is something (against Welles even in his dotage though, Efron would have been reduced to a red smear on the soundstage floor)...But his lovely dovey interludes with Claire Danes (herself a former Juliet no less) were superfluous filler at best if not cringe inducing to watch.
Alas though, Welles the director, the great teacher of film-makers has become a legend whose life has become outright film fodder, I'm not sure this is the sort of immortality he was shooting for when he set out to top "Citizen Kane."
Three stars, Liked the cast, loved the topic, had some issues with the script.

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