‘Me and Orson Welles’, director Richard Linklater’s period drama set in 1937 New York, is a bland and forgettable foray into the theatre scene of the time.
The action takes place over the course of a week leading up to the opening night of a Mercury Theatre production of ‘Julius Caesar’, directed by the bombastic and arrogant Orson Welles (McKay).
High school student Richard Samuels (Zac Efron) manages to bluff his way into the role of Lucius in the production, after a chance encounter with Welles on the street. However it’s going to prove to be a steep learning curve for the idealistic young man as he experiences the highs and lows of acting life.
Richard falls for the ambitious production assistant Sonja Jones (Danes), falls in and out of Welles’ favour, and comes to understand the superficiality of the world of acting.
It is a major departure for the ‘High School Musical’ star, who is desperate to shed his teen heart throb image and become a ‘serious’ actor. Zefron showed he had more than enough charm and presence in the comedy ’17 Again’, but here he doesn’t exude any of the familiar charisma. His depiction of the aspiring actor is passable, but doesn’t see him tread much unfamiliar ground.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of the film is the relatively unknown McKay’s portrayal of Welles. Apart from bearing an uncanny resemblance to the iconic director, McKay has mastered his mannerisms, voice and unwavering arrogance. It’s a spot-on performance that holds together the slight plot – in fact the scenes without McKay often feel like filler.
This unremarkable coming-of-age tale is unlikely to confirm Efron’s status as an actor who should be taken seriously. Although relatively enjoyable to watch, there’s little here to impress or grab your attention. McKay should be seeing a lot more scripts building up in his office though.