Considering what we know Louis is capable of as a writer and director, it's more than a bit puzzling how and why this film genuinely has the aesthetics and narrative limits of a mumblecore film. It's fine for a film to be both a comedy or drama, but this one seems like it just doesn't know what it wants to be. Gone is the confident directorial style he showed in both LOUIS and HORACE AND PETE, and the camera work…
At times, the dialog is painfully on-the-nose, some of the performances are the very definition of overacting, the visual effects are an embarrassment, and the film has schmaltz to spare. Yet still, there's something oddly compelling about this "legend" that won me over enough to endure its nearly 3-hour running time. Roth is great as always, yet, as mentioned above, there are serious screenplay problems that prevent the film from being more than just several handfuls of set-pieces. Music is great (thanks Ennio), but overall the thing feels like a floating FORREST GUMP.
I don't mind at all the film is dark -- both aesthetically and narratively -- but my god -- couldn't the screenwriter offer ANYTHING other than purely expository dialog? It was insufferable. People just explaining (and over-explaining) everybody's backstory, history, and present-day situations. Every bit of text is read out loud, followed by the same set of questions.
This is an assault on screenwriting.
Though this is just the 40 minute work-print of selected scenes that Welles edited, there's no doubt that this is some sort of masterpiece, and I do hope the crowd funding campaign is a success. If the film-within-a-film is meant to be a dig at "art cinema" of the day, Orson has nailed it.