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Nov 11th
09:03 pm
MAOW Review - Technorati by Anya Wassenberg  
Zac Efron Shines In Me and Orson Welles
Anya Wassenberg

Zac Efron stars as aspiring young actor Richard Samuels in this entertaining film set in 1937, inserted into the real life story of Orson Welles' landmark staging of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. In the space of a mere week before opening night, Richard talks himself into a role in the play, has a budding affair with an older woman (Claire Danes as the production manager) and has his heart bruised and his pride likewise, against the sharp edges of unabashed ambition and over sized ego.

Efron's solid as the center of the film and our way into this story about the fragile magic of theater and some of the realities behind what transpires on stage. He turns in an entirely convincing performance with just the right range, from the kind of bravado that gets him the opportunity - as in this scene in front of the Mercury Theatre - to the naive vulnerability that sees him blindsided by backstage politics and the calculated maneuvering of his colleagues.

If Efron's our window into the story, its center has to be the brilliant performance of newcomer Christian McKay as a young Welles. We get a real sense of the man's sparkling genius, along with his impossibly capricious, self indulgent persona, the director with a penchant for keeping the entire company waiting while he chases the latest winsome young lady to cross his path. He tells Richard he's a "God created actor," and it sounds like a compliment until he explains the hollowness inside it, the empty space from which the desire to become someone else springs.

Welles' historic production edited the Bard's play and set it in modern times in Fascist Italy. I dabble in a little acting myself, not much, but enough to know that the film handily captures the roller-coaster chemistry of putting on a show, the sense of being at the mercy of a director's whims (sigh!) and of the whole production forever teetering on the brink of disaster. With its peppy pace and a raft of amusing peripheral characters from John Houseman (Eddie Marsan) to George Coulouris (Ben Chaplin) you won't need any special appreciation of things theatrical to enjoy what really amounts to an accelerated coming of age story. Richard emerges a little older and much wiser, and as history tells the tale, Welles innovative production won him raves from audiences and critics alike, and cemented his early reputation.

Opens November 25 in limited release in the U.S, December 4 in Toronto, Montreal & Vancouver and in the U.K. You can check out the trailer below.

Mood: cheerfulcheerful
16 16 comments Comment
summertimecarol_rio on November 12th, 2009 04:17 am (UTC)
Yep..it's great!!!
Very good.

Love the title
"Zac Efron Shines In Me and Orson Welles"
bettybaby63bettybaby63 on November 12th, 2009 04:20 am (UTC)
just so happy for him/them/it with all these reviews!

hopefully we'll get more about the houston screening.
IceGoddess: dirty little secret - this is *the* oneccmskatechick on November 12th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC)
Another good one! I cannot wait for the rest of you guys to see it so I can gush with y'all :)
hunny miss (aka lets fead him to the gators)ehs_wildcats on November 12th, 2009 05:25 am (UTC)
Just FYI for all of you, I plan on posting the twitters from Houston tomorrow. So if you can hold off on posting them in the comments here that would be great. I think they'll trickle in a little bit and I'd like to put them all in one place. If I've missed any tomorrow feel free to comment with them in that post.
livingwell100livingwell100 on November 12th, 2009 05:34 am (UTC)
The Houston screening is just Richard right?

I'm expecting great reviews again
hunny miss (aka lets fead him to the gators)ehs_wildcats on November 12th, 2009 05:50 am (UTC)
Yeah. And nobody has mentioned seeing Zac there so I think he is elsewhere.
summertimecarol_rio on November 12th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
Hihi..specially for me :P
It's ok!!!=)
butterflybee260: by sashabutterflybee260 on November 12th, 2009 07:54 am (UTC)
Adam on twitter

So the Shank sometimes does this Twitter Q&A that I've caught him on once or twice, and tonight's featured a great Zef question.

Someone tweeted: "Zefron guest-judge on SYTYCD? JUST ONCE, DAMNIT?!!" 7 minutes ago from web

To which he replied: "@abbykate I'll docwhat I can. He is a fan" 6 minutes ago from Tweetie

I personally think Zef guest judging would be like the best thing ever.
samwise gamgee.colfer on November 12th, 2009 10:27 am (UTC)
Re: Adam on twitter
lol that would make me watch the show again. i haven't since josh won. but srsly, zac would be hilarious because he's not a trained dancer & can just barely do choreography when it's given to him & he practices twice as hard as everyone else.
butterflybee260butterflybee260 on November 12th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Adam on twitter

Ellen guest judged last year and like could barely judge, she just told jokes all night. But seeing Zef try to be all serious and judge would be epic lol.
livingwell100livingwell100 on November 12th, 2009 04:28 pm (UTC)
Are we only putting up good reviews for Zac or are we putting up all the reviews?

Because they're will be some not so great ones unfortunately but that does not make them less valid, some criticm is constructive and actually help make an actor better.

Even Depp, DeCaprio and Pitt don't get 100% good reviews.

I have to say I admired Team Hudgens for putting up all the reviews for Bandslam very good and not so good.
hunny miss (aka lets fead him to the gators)ehs_wildcats on November 12th, 2009 04:41 pm (UTC)
I put up any review. Not just good ones.
livingwell100livingwell100 on November 12th, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks I just didn't want to offend anyone and I see the Rotten Tomatoes reviews are beginning to come in.

They never agree on anything LMAO
bettybaby63bettybaby63 on November 12th, 2009 06:50 pm (UTC)
i skimmed RT quickly, those seem to be old reviews mostly????
livingwell100livingwell100 on November 12th, 2009 07:19 pm (UTC)
The Emmanuel Levy one is the newest but with the screenings we will now see more
bettybaby63bettybaby63 on November 12th, 2009 07:49 pm (UTC)
yes it seemed that was the only one that was new.

i like that it has an good rating, and hope it holds :D