Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
United Kingdom/USA/Isle Of Man, 2008. CinemaNX, Isle of Man Film, Framestore, Hart-Lunsford Pictures, Detour Filmproduction. Screenplay by Holly Gent Palmo, Vincent Palmo Jr., based on the novel by Robert Kaplow. Cinematography by Dick Pope. Produced by Ann Carli, Richard Linklater, Marc Samuelson. Music by Michael J. McEvoy. Production Design by Laurence Dorman. Costume Design by Nic Ede. Film Editing by Sandra Adair. Independent Spirit Awards 2009. National Board of Review Awards 2009. National Society of Film Critics Awards 2009. New York Film Critics Awards 2009. Toronto International Film Festival 2008. Washington Film Critics Awards 2009.
Memorably enjoyable comedy about a “never the same again after that summer” loss of innocence. Zac Efron is terrific as a young man in the 1930s who lets high school fall by the wayside when he gets the opportunity to be in a Mercury Theatre production of Julius Caesar and work alongside one of the all-time greats, Orson Welles. He becomes friendly with the cast and crew, falls in love with the theatre’s errand gal (Claire Danes) and thinks he has gotten to know the great man himself but, as is famously known, a mercurial personality like Welles can turn into a fire-breathing dragon without a moment’s notice. Within the experience of that kind of terrorizing individual, however, is the opportunity to learn much about the world. Christian McKay gives an astonishingly accurate portrayal of the Depression-era boy wonder Welles, capturing not only the tones of his 8-shows-a-week-2-matinees voice but also the charisma that made him so irresistible as well as terrifying. Richard Linklater doesn’t try to rewrite the book on coming-of-age sagas, focusing instead on finding the unique personality within this already familiar tale, plus creating a gorgeous old New York straight out of Woody Allen’s period films.