I came across the trailer for this film on youtube knowing nothing but who Orson Welles was - not the director, what it was about, when it came out, or how critics had responded. Of course I recognized Zac Efron having been in the receiving age group of the Disney Channel Soul Suckers (kidding, but only just), his existence went right over my head and I was instead drawn to Christian McKay (who at the time of this review still has a startlingly slim imdb record *cough* SOMEONE GIVE THE MAN A LEAD IN EVERY MOVIE THERE IS GOING TO BE *uncough*) - because in the two and a half minutes the trailer had to sway me I was convinced that he was already a very accomplished veteran actor I had somehow missed. I found a link, watched the movie online, and bought it the very next day.
The story goes as follows: Richard (Efron) is a bored schoolboy who miraculously talks his way into getting a bit part in an Orson Welles (Christian McKay) production of Caesar, at which point he is quickly shafted to the responsibility of Sonja (Claire Danes). Richard is clumsy, bouncing from one mishap (theatre sprinklers) to another (losing props), and is played well enough by Zac Efron that I forgot this was one of Disney's Golden Boys who are To Pretty to Be by definition, and enjoyed Zac Efron, the actor. Sonja answers phone calls, annotates novels and, driven by the ambition to actually get a paycheck for the work she does, goes on multiple dates with the men of the company - but strictly to get ahead, as she is the Only Sane (wo)Man in the movie.
And then there is Orson Welles. When he is on screen the film is interesting, engaging, and had me gnawing on my lip in anticipation, when he isn't it does lull a bit, but that could just be my perspective. Orson Welles has been called a prodigy, an egomaniac, a genius, a failure. Fistfuls of adjectives float around his name like clouds that could either lead to heaven's gates or burst and release buckets of water. He was just a man really, and Christian McKay plays him as such - a brilliant, artistic, charismatic man who could be immature, vain, amusing, terrifying and constantly at odds with someone or something.
Associates include Eddie Marsan as John Houseman, James Tupper as Joseph Cotten, Leo Bill as Norman Lloyd, and Ben Chaplin as George Coulouris as members of the Mercury Theatre.
This isn't historically accurate, it isn't a flawless film, and if you are looking for problems you will probably find one - but it is a great movie (great enough to snag a 4 star review from Roger Ebert), which provides a great performance by the man playing The Great Man.