It is true, all of it. Well – as far we know. Apparently, test screenings of The Disaster Artist, as successful as they were, left audiences perplexed. Surely this is a fictional story right? Tommy Wiseau has to be a cartoon character. How can a mysterious immigrant with a bottomless bank account and an unknown age and lineage, jetstream into superstardom despite lacking any real acting or filmmaking skills, let alone people skills? The answer… I’m afraid I don’t know, and that is the magic of The Disaster Artist.
James Franco stars and directs this mildly bio-pic tale (allegedly doing so in character the ENTIRE production) that tells the tale behind how The Room, one of the worst feature films to ever be made and one of the world’s biggest cult movies, came to exist. The ebbs and flows of the process are almost more interesting than The Room itself.
Greg Sestero is a struggling actor whose biggest problem is a lack of confidence. In acting class one day he spies a boisterous, loud and clumsy man named Tommy whose monologue is full of zest and void of any embarrassment. He decides to approach Tommy after class and asks to work with him – unbeknownst to Greg, this butterfly effect would flow on to change his life forever. Within three months of friendship and a pinky swear promise, the two move to LA to pursue their dreams of making it big in Hollywood.
Perhaps one of the biggest mysteries of this film is why Greg agreed to go, or even to this today continues to hang out with a strange, weird man who looks like Dracula’s old uncle. These days it’s probably the money but the film does explore their odd friendship and Greg’s enduring patience for a man with all dollars, no sense, and not a modicum of social decorum.
The Disaster Artist really hits its strides once we see the (supposedly) behind the scenes moments of how The Room came to life. The best bits are watching the crew try to figure out certain decisions that made it into the final cut that left us, the audience, scratching our heads; like why does Tommy laugh after hearing the anecdote of a woman getting beaten up? Or why during the sex scene is he so adamant the camera see his rear, whilst he simultaneously ummm… does it… wrong… as well as watching the actors be baffled as to whether this is a real production or not. It looked like a nightmare that you can only laugh at in retrospect.
Despite the final outcome and expenses of more than $6 million, the film was finished and released, the greatest achievement of all – I suspect money is the only reason that it happened.
The Room ended up changing the landscape. Movies could suddenly be bad, and people are okay with paying money to see them. Now The Room plays in cinemas all over the world as an event, involving spoon throwing and yelling comments at certain parts. What originally made $1800 in sales has now turned a profit.
The man, the myth and the movie are all fascinating to watch, and the performances from the actors are tip-top and make you forget you’re seeing Seth Rogen or Josh Hutcherson or even Jacki Weaver! The style of shooting is quite veritè, on the shoulder, shaky like a documentary, almost as if James Franco said “Man, imagine if you could just capture everything Tommy did and said leading up to The Room. To be a fly on the wall for that could almost make a good movie.”
And it did.
Dendy, the home of quality cinema.