The Disaster Artist is a good movie about the making of a terrible one. That would be The Room – and no, not the Brie Larson film. This crime against cinema was perpetrated in 2003 by eccentric and enigmatic auteur Tommy Wiseau, who’s the subject of James Franco’s dramatisation on how this masterpiece of ineptitude – which has since become a cult favourite – was brought into existence.
As a filmmaker, Franco has always favoured bizarre and experimental projects, and taking his cues from Wiseau, directs and stars in this adaptation of Room actor Greg Sestero’s memoir The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made.
Sestero (played by Dave Franco) first encounters Wiseau (James Franco) in a San Francisco drama class, and is quickly dragged off to LA where the pair believe they can make it big in Hollywood. However, cagey agents and refusals eventually convince Wiseau that if you want to succeed in the movie biz, you do it yourself, and he begins scripting The Room.
With camera equipment purchased, cast assembled, and no idea how to make a movie, Wiseau embarks on his dream project. Ostensibly a romantic melodrama about a guy and his whinging fiancée, set in a bland apartment, none of the cast and crew can confirm what the film is actually about. They know it’s terrible but nonetheless endure the strange demands and petulant outbursts of their deluded director, unaware that they are making cult movie history.
It matters not if you haven’t seen The Room – the story behind what is described as “the Citizen Kane of bad movies” is just as hilarious and bizarre an experience, with Franco recreating the film’s egregious sex scenes and inert drama with a dedication that mirrors Wiseau’s own.
The same applies to his performance; Franco could be accused of indulging in a vanity project if his portrayal of the larger than life Wiseau wasn’t so damn perfect. Mimicking his unintelligable speech and flamboyant emoting, it’s a total character immersion born of an intimate familiarity with a film many would struggle to watch once.
While there’s ample insight into the creation of this disasterpiece, the dope on its creative visionary – beyond what’s perceived by friend Sestero – is deliberately vague. Resembling the lovechild of Guns N’ Roses’ Slash and the Vampire Lestat, Wiseau remains a man of mystery. He speaks with a European accent but insists he’s from New Orleans, and possesses a bottomless pit of wealth (The Room‘s budget was a reported $5 million!), the source of which is undisclosed.
The Disaster Artist is a perfect companion piece to Tim Burton’s Ed Wood; a love letter to a misfit moviemaker and a reminder that truly great bad movies aren’t deliberately made (like Sharknado) – they’re the result of an earnest belief in an artistic vision, and possessing none of the required skills to achieve it.
In cinemas: December 7, 2017
Starring: James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen
Directed by: James Franco