review

The Disaster Artist

Directors: James Franco

Starring:  James FrancoDave Franco & Ari Graynor

Released: 9th April

When it was released in 2009, Tommy Wiseau’s film The Room was met with, it is fair to say, a degree of opprobrium. Entertainment Weekly dubbed it “the Citizen Kane of bad movies” while Variety claimed it “prompts most of its viewers to ask for their money back – before even 30 minutes have passed.” The Room passed into cinematic lore as a Rocky Horror Show-style cult hit. Disaster Artist chronicles the story of this anti-masterpiece, with James Franco as both star and director, having a lot of fun with (but, critically, not at the expense of) Wiseau and his toe-curlingly awful film.

Franco has become an intriguing proposition over the years. As an actor, he has moved away from the frat humour of his earlier TV and film projects to embrace Cormac McCarthy and William Faulkner. To a degree, The Disaster Artist satisfies both strands of his career: it is often funny but it has a serious undertow.

A sense that Wiseau, for all his ineptitude as a filmmaker, is a man with a particular vision that should be celebrated. In that respect, you might see The Disaster Artist in the same way as Tim Burton’s affectionate homage to another hopeless auteur, Ed Wood.

What Franco has created is a surreal, behind the scenes soap opera where Hollywood cameos abound (Sharon Stone, Bryan Cranston, Melanie Griffith) and it becomes evident than in true movie making fashion nothing is too ambitious or too exasperatingly awful for Wiseau and a coterie of equally delusional helpers (who include Seth Rogen, David Franco and Ari Graynor).

In one scene, Judd Apatow tells Wiseau, “You’ll never make it, not in a million years.” The reply comes after a beat. “But after that?”

Michael Bonner


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