Me and Orson Welles was intended in part to showcase the acting chops of teen idol Zac Efron -- and also to bring his considerable following into the movie theater -- many of whom, no doubt, have never heard of Orson Welles. But not a few reviewers suggest that the Richard Linklater movie would have been far more enjoyable if it had focused on Welles and not the teenage character who inadvertently becomes a part of Welles's famed Mercury Theater ensemble at about the time the 22-year-old enfant terible of the theater was staging Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (in which he also appeared as Brutus). As Welles in real life upstaged every other actor in his presence, so, too does Christian McKay, the virtually unknown British actor who portrays him in this movie, many of the critics suggest. McKay, writes A.O. Scott in the New York Times , portrays Welles with "superhuman confidence. His evident relish in the dimensions of this role is a crucial part of the performance. It's so much fun to play Orson Welles because it must have been at least as much fun to be Orson Welles." Likewise Claudia Puig in USA Today writes "McKay's performance is a revelation. He nails Welles' imperiousness, charm and vocal cadences, and even bears a strong resemblance to the iconic actor/director. He is thoroughly convincing as Welles and electrifies the screen when he's on it." Indeed, that may be both the strength and weakness of the movie, Betsy Sharkey implies in the Los Angeles Times. "McKay's command of the subject is so Welles-ian that when he's in a scene everyone else fades a little," she observes. In fact, some critics are suggesting that McKay might very well end up winning the best-actor award at next year's Oscars, something that always eluded the real-life Welles. (He shared a screenplay Oscar for Citizen Kane. ) Welles, writes Mary Pols in Time magazine, "is brilliantly embodied by Christian McKay in one of those, hey-who's-that? performances that tends to draw Oscar talk, even if the film itself isn't much more than an extremely pleasant lark."

26/11/2009