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3.9 out of 5 stars37
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 27 March 2010
Saw this at the cinema at the end of last year. Wrote a review (which Amazon have lost), so am now having to write another one! Yes its worth writing about... Let me start by being honest and saying if you're not really that interested in the theatre then you most probably will find this film boring. However if you are interested in the theatre or have tread the boards like myself, then you will probably thoroughly enjoy this. There is quite a bit of humour in this film, and it is definitely one I could watch again.

The story is based on Welles' earlier career when he directed in the theatre (prior to going to film). The year is 1937 and Welles is in the early stages of directing the Mercury Players in the production of Julius Caesar. A 17yr old high school kid (Zac Efron) chases an opportunity of a lifetime to make it as an actor by work with Welles in his performance at the Mercury Theatre. The rehearsals are not exactly going smoothly (technical hitches, hissy fits etc!) Along the way, the young man finds his first love - the Directors P.A (played by Claire Danes). Unfortunately for him, there is a more mature man on the scene, who always gets his way...

I studied Welles' career years ago at college and was so impressed with Christian McKay's 'first major role' performance as Orson Welles - he played him just as I imagined him to be! He even looked like him! (Although he was nominated, I was hugely disappointed that he didn't win a BAFTA - he deserved it!, and where was the Oscar nomination?!)

Zac Efron plays his character well in his first adult-oriented film role to date. Christian McKay steals the show though, and if anything, see this film for his superb acting.
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This is a little gem of a film - based on Robert Kaplow`s fictionalised account of the landmark 1937 Mercury Theatre production of Julius Caesar directed by Orson Welles.
Christian McKay gives an entirely credible performance as Welles and the re-creation of the production itself is marvellously evocative; at the time the play caused quite a stir with its contemporary anti-fascist message and bold design. Clearly a great deal of time and research was spent on getting the details right - even the actors playing Joseph Cotton and John Houseman bear a convincing resemblance to the real people.
The backstage story is entertaining and the cast is first rate; Efron acquits himself well and Danes plays her character - an ambitious, independently-minded production assistant - very convincingly, but make no mistake this is McKay`s film.
Much of the shooting was done in the UK and there was a lot of blue-screen work involved in re-creating 1930`s New York; the use of period swing music - lots of Goodman, Ellington and Dorsey - complete the feel of the times. Look out for the night-club scene; that's Jools Holland at the piano, backing up singer Eddi Reader - who also gives a lovely rendition of "I Surrender, Dear" right at the end of the closing credits!
Extras on the disc include some deleted scenes, a 12min. summation of the Caesar play scenes, two featurettes - "The making of..." and "The real Orson Welles" and a Q&A session with the cast and director.
This is a very underrated film and director Richard Linklater has really pulled out a winner; well worth your time if you enjoy theatre and the theatrical, a good story, or are just interested in Welles.
At the time of writing this review the DVD is available at a good price; don`t miss it.
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on 29 January 2012
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.
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I was pleasantly surprised by this one. A well acted ensemble piece set in a well realised 1930's New York, I thought it was a warm witty little number.

Based on the fiction novel by Robert Kaplow and directed by Richard Linklater, it focuses on a young lad named Richard (Zac Efron) who is cast in Orson Welles stage production of Julius Caesar. The film follows Richards journey throughout the production - his interactions with the rest of the eclectic cast, a romantic entanglement with an older women (although not that old) and of course a relationship of sorts with the big man himself.

This is the films ace in the hole - a fantastic portrayal of Orson Welles by Christian McKay. He looks, acts and sounds the part perfectly. The rest of the cast acquit themselves well - Efron is likeable as the central observer supported by the likes of Claire Danes, Ben Chaplin, Eddie Marsan etc but this feels like Mckays/Welles film. He's a looming, grandstanding, charismatic, adulterous presence throughout. Not that he's necessarily the hero of the piece, in fact he's often anything but.

The film is at turns funny, romantic, dramatic and gives a nice twist to the standard coming of age tale.
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on 12 December 2011
When I heard that teenage heartthrob Zac Efron was going to star in Richard Linklater's film based on the novel by Robert Kaplow about a fledgling actor who gets his lucky break playing Lucius in Orson Welles' legendary Mercury Theatre Broadway debut production of Julius Caesar in 1937, I was a little uneasy yet undeterred due to my enduring fascination with Welles it was always going to be compulsory viewing.

Having sat through at least two of the High School Musical movies my expectations were set suitably low, however much to my surprise Efron acquits himself rather well here as his easy looks and effortless charm are a perfect fit for the role of Richard Samuels, an indefatigable stage-struck romantic who forms a rapport with the celebrated iconoclast Orson Welles played with startling verisimilitude by newcomer Christian McKay.

The film is set just after Orson and producer John Houseman (Eddie Marsan) had their admirable run in with the government over the censorship of the musical The Cradle Will Rock due to writer Marc Blitzstein's affiliation to the Communist Party. This was a Federal Theatre Production; the project was one of FDR's New Deal initiatives aimed at giving jobless men practical work during the Great Depression, however Blitzstein's play had a pro-unionist message that did not sit well with the presiding administration and the theatre was locked and all the props seized provoking Welles and Houseman to hire an alternative venue out of their own pockets to stage an impromptu performance requiring some of the cast to deliver their lines from seats in the audience; the sensation was documented in Tim Robbins' 1999 movie of the same name.

After the incident both Welles and Houseman resigned from the Federal Theatre and formed the Mercury Players starting a repertory company including Joseph Cotton (James Tupper) and Norman Lloyd (Leo Bill) many of whom would feature in most, if not all, of Welles future productions on stage, radio and screen. Their debut show was to be a modern dress version of Shakespeare's tragedy Julius Caesar drawing a comparison to contemporary Fascist Italy under Benito Mussolini; adapting the key scene featuring Cinna the Poet and having him brutally murdered not by an angry mob but a secret police force.

One of the film's great strengths lies in showing a working theatre from both sides of the curtain. It also shines a light on Welles' eccentric working methods, particularly the way in which he handled his fellow actors, seducing or inciting their very best performances out of them. It also depicts his dedicated dashing from one radio show to another, lending his vocal talents at the drop of a hat either as The Shadow or another random character part, to fund his own productions; apparently he hired an ambulance to beat the New York traffic as there was no law saying you had to be ill to travel in one!

Whilst it's fair to say that due to the Welles' massive persona Christian McKay steals every scene he is in, Zac Efron and Claire Danes still have ample screen time to explore their mutual attraction in a series of well played "meet-cute" wisecracking scenes reminiscent of the screwball farces of the period. Director Linklater does remarkably well with a relatively low-budget and no-frills approach, the obvious area in which there has been no scrimping is in the script's marvellous attention to historical detail, taking its time and never underestimating the attention span of the audience.

Given Zac Efron's bankability there must have been a huge temptation to make creative compromises in order to reach a wider market, luckily the producers elected to make the movie in the Isle of Man, a tax haven, allowing them far greater artistic control but unfortunately limiting the distribution options and consequently the film has been seen by few people which is a great shame.

The initial home video releases in the UK were strictly limited to one supermarket chain and it has yet to emerge in high definition, although fortunately the German Blu-ray release has a full 1080p VC-1 picture resolution and an optional DTS-HD 5.1 English audio soundtrack, without forced subtitles. I can imagine how hard it is, given the subject matter, to get a movie like Me and Orson Welles made at all, so praise is due to Richard Linklater and I hope in time the film finds the audience it truly deserves.
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on 10 April 2014
Very enjoyable and credible take on what it might have been like to work in the theatre with Orson Welles. Christian McKay is excellent as the charismatic but unpredictable director - why haven't we seen more of him? Clare Danes and the rest of the cast are first-class too. Yes, you may need to be interested in film or theatre to get the best out of this, but then most of us are! Otherwise, I agree with the other reviews. A gem of a film, highly recommended.
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on 11 February 2015
Its okay but it is really not my favorite Zac Efron film.I was getting very bored watching this film, I am so glad I watched it on amazon prime because if I had purchased it, I would have been hugely disappointed! I doubt I would ever watch it again (sorry Zac)
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on 23 June 2016
Me and Orson Welles is one of my favourite films. Where's the HD version on Amazon Video? Why can't I own this film! Come on Warner Bros. sort it out! This film is critically acclaimed and universally loved.
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on 25 November 2015
Big fan of Zac Efron! Not a bad film but not his best. Would recommend if you like his acting, otherwise wouldn't really watch it as it has bad reviews.
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on 28 December 2014
Brilliantly acted with charming and engaging characters. A very pleasurable evening spent viewing. I very much recommend.
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