Tommy, dude, this really isn’t necessary.
No, no! Very necessary!
I’m on record about The Room; I absolutely love it and think it’s one of the most hilarious bad movies ever made. Not quite Birdemic level, but right up there. In writer-director-producer-lead actor Tommy Wiseau, The Disaster Artist has the kind of character great movies are made out of and Franco has done a really good job. The Franco brothers are both really great here in my opinion. James Franco nails the impression of Wiseau, but he also digs deeper to find the dark emptiness and sorrow that kind of underlies Wiseau. Dave gives what is, I think, his best performance to date; I’ve found him to be really improving over his last few movies and he gives Greg Sesteros real depth and sadness. As we watch Tommy slowly go off the rails and become abusive and repugnant, we as an audience are tethered to him only by Greg’s empathy. At the end of the day, for some completely strange reason, Greg feels what seems to be real love for Tommy and he’s desperate for some way to make Tommy happy, even as Tommy becomes more and more of a monster. There are a lot of comedic bits in the film that are quite funny, but I ultimately found the primary emotion of this movie to be sadness. Tommy is driven by some mysterious kind of self-loathing; he’s not happy with who he is and he’s driven to make an incredibly dark film out of that emptiness. But it’s even worse than that; he doesn’t even have the talent to turn his misery into anything but another source of misery. Greg, meanwhile, is driven by his own affection for Tommy into a world of real pain. I found the scene of Greg being shaved to be one of the most painfully sad scenes of the year actually; Dave Franco really nails that scene without a word of dialogue, just a look of total devastation and hopelessness. And then at the end of the film when Tommy decides to embrace the “film as comedy” narrative, it’s played like a triumph, but I can’t help but feel that it’s just another level of self-loathing delusion. It’s a really solid film, though it is hamstrung by the familiar beats of the story, by which I mean that it’s really just a somewhat bizarre twist on the typical struggling artist, behind the scenes movie. And the scenes involving the actual making of the movie go on a bit long; having seen The Room itself a couple of times, I was familiar enough with the scenes re-enacted here to kind of get tired of watching them re-enacted. None of the side characters really come to life either, despite almost every role featuring an off-the-wall cameo. Anyway, it has its flaws, but it’s ultimately successful mostly as a character study and the two lead performances are both wonderful. 3 stars.
tl;dr – flawed screenplay has issues, but this movie ultimately works as a sad character study of two men and their strange relationship, thanks in large part to the wonderful performances. 3 stars.