An immensely entertaining film focussing on the rehersals for Welles legendary production of Julius Caesar in 1937. The story is told through the eyes of a fictional character, Richard Samuels, played beautifully by Zac Efron, a young man who lucks into the part of Lucius after encountering the Mercury Theatre Company, and Welles, in the street.
Both in form and in content there are strong echoes of "Shakespeare in Love", but with the startling originality of Christian McKay's performance as Welles, which captures Welle's genius, charm, ego, pettiness and ruthlessness in a seemingly effortless sweep. The movie is worth watching for this alone, but it also has much else to recommend it: a deeply entertaining behind the scenes account of the production of a great play; a touching portrait of a youthful affair between the lovely Clare Danes and Efron; and the great Eddie Marsden, who has over the years produced some memorable performances as terrifying characters, here playing the gentleman that was John Houseman.
The looming tragedy of World War 2 is underplayed in favour of a sense of youthful hope in the spite of the encroaching fear and disappointment: even the worst circumstances are replete with possibilities as Efron's character ultimately learns.