From the last days of Pompeii, through Titanic to The Hindenburg, Hollywood has a long history of adapting disasters into motion pictures, so it was only a matter of time before Tommy Wiseau’s magnificent octopus was itself finally turned into an unironically watchable movie.
When aspiring actor Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) encounters the bizarre and enigmatic Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) in an acting class, they quickly form a form a strange and intense friendship. Intoxicated by his new friends’ unrestrained and larger than life personality, it’s not long before the pair decide to move to Hollywood and make their big-screen dreams come true. So begins the crazy but true tale of the making of “The Room”.
Of course, much of the magic of “The Room” is in the mystery surrounding its visionary creator and Franco’s adaptation of Greg Sestero’s memoir makes an effort to keep the enigma intact while still shedding plenty of light on the chaos of the movie’s making.
Franco’s performance as Wiseau is dazzlingly good, attacking the absurdities and foibles of the man yet still sympathetically enough that you buy into his sincere desire to realise a dream which may exceed his grasp. You also get a feel for how much his friendship with Sestero meant to him and how deeply the perceived betrayals must have hurt. Of course, every insight or revelation Franco provides us only serves to raise even more questions and deepen the mystery. Like his brother, Dave Franco also turns in a tremendous performance, arguably his career best as Sestero struggles between ambition and loyalty to his friend, mentor and/ or co-dependent.
For those who have seen the room, half the joy of this movie is in seeing key moments coming into being or re-enacted with an attention to detail that is simply astonishing (a sequence of side by side scene comparisons during the end credits not only attest to this but raise the tantalising prospect that Franco and co may just have made a shot-for-shot remake of the whole movie as the ultimate bonus feature) but the film is well crafted and balanced enough to captivate and entertain even if you haven’t seen the movie at the heart of all the drama. Of course, if you haven’t seen the original, you might be tempted to conclude “The Disaster Artist” is exaggerating for comic effect but trust me, they are not.
With the movie rounded out by a star-studded cast including the likes of Zac Efron, Josh Hutcherson, Brian Cranston, Seth Rogen and many others, it’s not hard to see how fondly “The Room” is regarded by the very industry it was made to impress. “The Disaster Artist” confirms once and for all that Wiseau has finally achieved everything he wanted to by making the film, just – by every conceivable measure – not the way he’d intended. He even gets to appear in a critically lauded Hollywood production thanks to a post-credits stinger which means you need to stay in your seat until the very end.
“The Room” may be a work of accidental, unintentional genius but “The Disaster Artist” is a deliberate, joyous triumph.