112 minutes| U.K.| 2008| Colour| Anamorphic| 35mm

Richard Linklater’s new film is a delightful coming-of-age story about a high school student (Zac Efron) who talks his way into a small role in Orson Welles’ legendary 1937 staging of Julius Caesar at New York’s Mercury Theatre. Heartthrob Efron may have been cast to cater for the youth market, but he’s very good as the naive kid who’s impressed by the flamboyance, self-confidence and sheer talent of the young Welles, who was revolutionising theatre and radio before making Citizen Kane.

What lifts the film beyond the level of a pleasant putting-on-a-show saga is British actor Christian McKay’s exceptional performance as Welles. More than a technically brilliant impersonation (the look, voice and mannerisms are spot-on), McKay’s playing of Welles somehow captures the great man’s unique combination of bluster, seductive charm and mercurial talent. The film is faithful to both theatrical history and the peculiar nature of Welles’ creative processes in its recreation of the chaotic production that was Caesar, and watching McKay feels like seeing the real Welles at work.

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