I love movies. I love writing about them. Hope you like reading what I write.
For once in my philistine life, I read the book first. That is, after watching the bizarre film without which the book would not exist.
The Disaster Artist, based on the autobiographical book of the same name follows Dave Franco as Greg Sestero, a young actor with big dreams who bumps into a strange man called Tommy Wiseau, played by James Franco. Wiseau shares the same dreams ofstardom and so decides to make a movie with his best friend, Greg. That movie was The Room. This is a true story.
The Room materialised in 2003. It starred and was written, produced and directed by Tommy Wiseau. It was a bad film. The incalculable ineptitude of this $6 million drama has captured the hearts of millions around the world. It is the Citizen Kane of bad movies.
Just as Citizen Kane had Orson Welles, an eccentric, once in a generation genius whose brain we’d all like to pick, The Room has Tommy Wiseau, a man clearly eccentric, but with a more mysterious and debatable form of genius. Until the release of Greg Sestero’s masterful book The Disaster Artist which chronicles his weird and touching friendship with Tommy, much of the genesis of The Room has remained an enigma.
James Franco, who has stated that he has an artistic kinship with Wiseau, has directed an adaptation of that book that treats him, Sestero and the production with genuine respect.
If the story had been nothing but bizarre behind the scenes antics from Tommy, the film would not be much more than a visual recreation of The Room’s Wikipedia page.
Instead we see the story through the lens of the relationship between Greg and Tommy. The result is way more endearing.
The film is also much more focused on the comedy and lighter aspects of that tale than the book was. The book had these elements, but partly due to literature’s inherit shifts in perspective, there’s a deeper, darker level to Tommy that we get to see and I personally miss when watching the film. I suppose this is the 60% supposed inaccuracy that the real Tommy says the book had. The film he described as being 99% accurate. Take that as you will.
I hate it when a review simply states that the book is better, but in this case I feel that for the purposes of the meta-narrative of The Room and Tommy and Greg and now the Franco brothers who have joined this legend, this film was inevitable and necessary.
The filmmaking in all areas of The Disaster Artist, from the writing to the directing to the acting is excellent in all the ways The Room was not. It even follows the central theme of betrayal and friendship better.
That simple irony, for me, is probably the most beautiful thing to come out of the complicated mess that The Room and its creators were.
I miss some of the darkness that Sestero had mentioned in his book, but as Tommy says now when describing his work that was originally meant to be taken seriously; “It’s a comedy”.
Recommended Scenario: If you’re familiar with The Room. You may still enjoy it, but some of it might go over your head otherwise.