Web Exclusive: 'Me and Orson Welles' simplifies its genius subject

By Jennifer Xu, Daily Arts Writer
Published January 5, 2010

Orson Welles was known to be difficult to work with as he got older. He was a talented man trapped in an aging body, criminally underappreciated by critics and masses alike. “Me and Orson Welles” superficially peels back the enigma behind the man, as aspiring actor Richard (Zac Efron, “17 Again”) takes on a bit part at the Mercury Theater, where Welles (newcomer Christian McKay) himself is directing a production of “Julius Caesar.”

"Me and Orson Welles"


At the State
Freestyle

The film attempts to chronicle the difficulties of working with a superhuman legend, showing shots of the actors waiting around for hours after Welles’s rendezvous with his many mistresses and Welles arbitrarily cutting lines and speeches from the show in order to preserve his own star. Oh, and there’s also a rather bizarre love triangle going on between Welles, Richard and the young theater manager Sonja (Claire Danes, “Stardust”), just because.

McKay tries his hardest, but he's simply not a strong enough actor to take on such a meaty role. He has a couple flashy moments, but none of them come to fruition. As a result, “Me and Orson Welles” falls into the ditch of glitzy, surface-level entertainment, somehow not dramatic enough and not substantial enough to create a story.

Someday there will be a better film about Orson Welles, one that manages to fully embrace what the man represented in cinema. It’s a shame it wasn’t this one.