Dubbed the Citizen Kane of bad movies, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is a rare beast. In 2003, no audiences could have anticipated just how bad a film could truly be, or perhaps even more shocking, how much fun it could provide. Fourteen years later people are still talking about the most bizarre production ever put to film, but that’s not all; James Franco is living it.
Down on his luck, aspiring actor Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) is struggling to make his big break. Through his resilience, he meets the mysterious Tommy Wiseau (James Franco), an eccentric performer resembling a drag act of a human being. Greg is fascinated by the confidence Tommy boasts, and wishes to learn from him. With the pair striking up a charming friendship, they move out to Los Angeles to chase dreams of stardom. But perhaps better than getting cast in a film, is making your own. A daring, dramatic film. A crowning achievement of the silver screen; The Room.
Wiseau’s film cost an estimated six million dollars, and made just under two-thousand in its initial two-week run. Why did it play for so long? That was an idea of Wiseau’s, so that the film could qualify for the Academy awards. This is clearly an individual determined in his cinematic vision, and anyone with such perseverance deserves to have their story told, under this circumstance in a way that suitably recalls Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. Based on Greg Sestero’s book of the same name, The Disaster Artist details the catastrophic shoot of The Room in hilarious fashion, and offers uproarious laugh out loud pleasure for its entire run-time, all anchored by one of this years most impressive performances.
Sublime. James Franco in the leading role is just fantastic. He manages to nail every aspect of the character – his mannerisms, his unnatural expressions, his stubbornness, but most importantly of all, his tortured soul. Franco, behind and in front of the camera, manages to chissell at Wiseau’s outer image and portray someone who at his core, loves cinema and just wants to be a part of it. Making a comedy about a deluded director would have been an easy task, but Franco does so much more than this; he teaches the audience something. For over a decade fans have often questioned why Sestero would be involved with someone so incompetent, and here their relationship is offered justification. They both encouraged each other in a way that neither of them had previously experienced, and at the time of their introduction, had only each other to lean on – all jokes aside, it’s a heartwarming story of an unforgettable friendship.
The narrative is well paced and set pieces offer effective foreshadowing for familiar audiences, but additionally offer a humour of the unexpected for new faces to the Wiseau phenomenon. The recreation scenes are terrifically engaged with by an entire cast that have lovingly banded together to have fun. The supporting cast boasts such names as Seth Rogen, Josh Hutcherson and Zac Efron, and they’re all clearly having such a good time under Franco’s passionate direction. He brings a character to the screen that is misunderstood by his baffled crew, and his performance makes you feel both sympathy and embarrassment in the space of a few short seconds – you may even want to reach out and give him a hug. The first act of the film is successful in positioning you with its main protagonists, and this success is partially owed to an inspired choice of music. Nineties dance anthems promising grandeur and a good time invite you into the pairs headspace; enhancing the excitement of the time and filling you with a sense that their lives are about to become extraordinary.
After an expendable and sermonizing compilation of star interviews, the film quickly becomes aware of it’s own strengths and places Franco’s screwball performance centre-stage, and it never ceases to entertain. It is an inscrutable rags-to-riches story years and years in the making, and it’s also one of the funniest films of 2017. What a story, Mark.