It’s been dubbed the worst movie of all time, but you can’t deny that there is something endearing about The Room and the complete misfit that created it. Now James Franco brings this bizarre Hollywood story to the big screen in The Disaster Artist.
1998. Promising young actor Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) makes a friend with the quirky, off-beat and completely oddball Tommy Wiseau (James Franco). Together these two friends decide to head out to Hollywood to seek their fortune. But facing failure and discrimination the two friends think that their Hollywood dream might never come true. That is until Wiseau decides that if no one wants to direct him in a movie, he’ll do it himself.
It was the story that had to be told. How the hell did a complete outsider find his way into the movie business and make a movie so bad that it has become infamous and which has inspired a legion of fans from around the world. This is where we find ourselves in with The Disaster Artist, which examines two men’s journey to find their place in the world and make their dreams come true. For James Franco, a performer who has been labelled equal parts misfit and heartthrob, The Disaster Artist is his ultimate performance piece. As a performer, producer and director he has firmly worked to label himself as an artist and with the story of how The Room became The Room he finds something very special. The material is brilliant and he has plenty of support from his diverse range of friends who pop-up in various cameo appearances with my favourite coming from Zac Efron as the roided out Chris R!
It’s clear that the story and the life of Tommy Wiseau, now a cult icon, resonates deeply with Franco. And the actor throws himself into his subject. His performance goes beyond method and there is no semblance of Franco left in Wiseau with his long greasy hair, broken nose, outlandish wardrobe and slurred, garbled European speak even though he continually boasts that he is in fact “an All American boy from New Orleans.” Franco also doesn’t skimp on the severity of his character as Tommy can go from innocent and charming to a completely out of control rage in a moment. His time as a director is particularly brutal and he lords over everyone that he is the director and that his vision is final. But behind the abuse of power is the fact that Tommy is a painfully lonely and sad man who desperately wants to be excepted by those around him, and not vilified as a freak or monster. It’s this ability to show all sides of his character that really makes Franco’s performance special and he doesn’t hold anything back from his audience.
Standing next to Franco’s Wiseau is his younger brother Dave as the second part of this equation in the form of Greg Sistero. Sistero is the total opposite of Wiseau, a classically good-looking young man who has all the indicators of potential movie star success. Except that is for a lack of confidence and inability to put himself out there. While he does find some early success such as getting an agent he soon learns about the hard ropes of working in Hollywood and his lack of success drags him down. When the two decide that they’ll make The Room together it starts out with a lot of hope, but slowly and steadily Greg comes under Tommy’s darker side and the two eventually split in a bitter feud.
While it’s definitely hard to keep up with Franco’s Tommy, the younger Franco does a great job and really puts in a stellar performance as Greg, a young man who is finding himself and trying to figure out whether Hollywood is the right place for him or not. While there’s plenty of sadness and turmoil that follows, ultimately this is a film that is not so much about the making of an infamous movie, but rather that of friendship. All friendships have their up’s and down’s along with plenty of crazy adventures thrown in their and this certainly clear of the relationship that was shared between Tommy, Greg and The Room. I can say that ultimately there is a happy ending and everything comes together in the right way, although not how these two best friends ever could ever think it would turn out.
The Disaster Artist is a celebration of creativity, dreams, friendship and what it means to follow one’s passion. While it could have been very easy to just dismiss Wiseau and Sistero as enthusiast amateurs, Franco gives them the respect they deserve and captures their story perfectly. I myself was blown away by how sincere and celebratory the film was and I have my fingers crossed that Franco will see some love this awards season because he truly deserves it.
Image: Roadshow Films