THE DISASTER ARTIST. A daring portrait of passion

The process of creating the magnum opus of Tommy Wiseau, the infamous The Room.

Dawid Myśliwiec

27 June 2023

There was a lot of talk about this film even before the shooting started. Not because of the figure of the director and the main actor in one person – James Franco at the time carried out so many projects that probably no one could keep up with him – but because of the main character of The Disaster Artist. Tommy Wiseau, the author of one of the greatest pop culture phenomena of the 21st century, is an extraordinary figure by all means. Of course, it is difficult to consider him a film genius, but his charisma and determination definitely deserved that someone as talented as the Franco brothers looked at the process of creating the magnum opus of Tommy Wiseau, the infamous The Room.

There were plenty of works telling the story of other films, but there are much fewer of those that would look behind the scenes of real titles with a plot twist. Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (1994) or Richard Attenborough’s Chaplin (1992) are the first examples that come to mind, but these two excellent biopics do not focus on a single project for their characters, but on an extended period of their work. The Disaster Artist is one of the few pictures that focus entirely on the history of the creation of a specific film work – and not just any! Today, The Room is a truly cult film, considered by many to be the worst picture in the history of cinema, a typical example of a work so bad it’s good.

What James Franco is unmatched in is the so-called incarnation – the actor is completely devoted to his character and even if he still has his own physiognomic features, behaviorally and mentally he is a completely different person. That’s why when we look at James, we see Tommy – especially in the materials displayed during the end credits, juxtaposing individual scenes from the original The Room with shots taken as part of The Disaster Artist. There are some differences in some sequences, but others look like a perfect copy of scenes from Wiseau’s infamous magnum opus. However, Franco does not focus only on faithfully recreating the sets of The Room and the “acting” of the main character – he is also interested in the eccentric artist as a man full of contradictions and secrets, eluding unequivocal assessments and categorizations.

In The Disaster Artist, a lot of space is devoted to, for example, Tommy’s mysterious origin, which is clearly audible in his English – and although the interested man himself consistently swears reality, claiming that he comes from New Orleans, all people cooperating with him know perfectly well that this is not true facade. Oscillating somewhere between megalomania and depression, Wiseau in Franco’s interpretation becomes not so much a caricature as a shapeless form – someone who has elements of both a madman and an artist or genius, but he can’t use any of them to build a personality. Thus, the creator of The Room may seem to some people a funny, unbalanced, broken man, and probably each of these terms fits Tommy. However, despite all the madness and excesses, the hero of The Disaster Artist, brilliantly portrayed by James Franco, is a real volcano of charisma and an extremely determined man. Because how many people out of nowhere managed to finance their film project alone and lead to its premiere in Hollywood?

The strength of Franco’s film lies not in its freshness or revolutionary character – it is, in fact, a very simply told, not particularly revolutionary cinema – but in its daring recreation of the passion that accompanied the making of The Room. However unsuccessful the debut of Tommy Wiseau and his friend Greg Sestero was, its creation was accompanied by the same magic as with Charlie Chaplin or Ed Wood.

Dawid Myśliwiec

Dawid Myśliwiec

Always in "watching", "about to watch" or "just watched" mode. Once I've put my daughter to bed, I sit down in front of the screen and disappear - sometimes losing myself in some American black crime story, and sometimes just absorbing the latest Netflix movie. For the past 12 years, I have been blogging with varying intensity at MyśliwiecOglą

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