By Jack Mansfield
(It’s been far too long since I’ve written for the blog, the last review being my rather scathing take on Kingsman: The Golden Circle way back in September. So, with summative essays beginning to loom over me at uni, I’ve decided to start a series of slightly shorter reviews called In 500 Words so that I can still put articles out on here!)
I was very lucky to be able to attend a preview screening of The Disaster Artist (James Franco, 2017), which gives audiences a new insight into the friendship between struggling actors Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero, and the events that led to the two making the now cult-favourite – albeit terrible – film, The Room (Wiseau, 2003). When Greg (Dave Franco) meets Tommy (James Franco) at an acting class, they form an unusual friendship and decide to make their dreams of becoming Hollywood actors come true. Tommy writes The Room, his self-proclaimed “masterpiece”, and he and Greg set about making their movie. And, if you know anything about The Room, you’ll know it’s widely loved, but not for being a great movie.
Perhaps the best thing about The Disaster Artist is actor/director James Franco. The cast is very good on the whole, but his standout depiction of the enigmatic Tommy Wiseau is absolutely captivating and so realistic that it’s often easy to forget that it’s Franco on screen and not Wiseau himself. But his performance is not just for the cameras, as Franco would also direct as Wiseau, making life on set highly bizarre; but this only helps to bolster his near-perfect character study. It’s in the scenes that document what happened on set from shooting day 1 of 40 to day 58 of 40 that the audience is treated to the full extent of Franco’s excellent performance; his portrayal of how Tommy directs the cast and crew and some of his maddening directorial decisions provides some truly laugh-out-loud moments.
It’s apparent throughout The Disaster Artist that this is not only a labour of love for James Franco but also the rest of the cast and crew. With an all-star cast including cameos from Zac Efron, Sharon Stone, and Judd Apatow (to name only a few!), it’s clear that there is a universal adoration for The Room that has stood the test of time. This also becomes apparent when we see some of the immortal scenes from the original film remade: we see the flower shop,”you’re tearing me apart, Lisa!”, and, most enjoyable to see, the infamous rooftop scene, bottle throw and all. For anyone who hasn’t seen The Room before, know that there is absolutely no need for context to these scenes. They’re simply hilarious for all the wrong reasons.
The Disaster Artist comes out in UK cinemas on the 6th December. If you’re a fan of The Room, this film is absolutely essential viewing. If you’re not already, James Franco’s love letter will make you want to go and watch immediately. In the words of Tommy Wiseau himself, what a great story.