Screened in the Plymouth Arts Centre cinema from Friday 26 January – Thursday 1 February, contributor J. Jones reviews The Disaster Artist…
How many films of the last two decades can be said to survive the onslaught of time? How many so celebrated are so easily forgotten? It is easy to hail a work as a masterpiece, to laud its triumphs and its dazzling successes; but what of the failures, the catastrophes, the absolute disasters? From the tower of Babel to the sinking of the Titanic, it is no coincidence that we remember the great acts of human folly equally, if not more so, than the great successes. Disaster is surely the most spectacular art.
The Room is a film that quite outlived its origins as a fantastic and extraordinarily expensive endeavour in hubris. From Tommy Wiseau (the director, star, producer, executive producer and so on…) came his dream of the all-American hero, betrayed by his wife-to-be and his friends. Surely a tale as old as tales have been told and strengthened by the centuries. And yet, with a handful of meaninglessly confusing sub-plots, obtuse scenes and drastically off-tempo emotional reactions, this age old story of the hero betrayed becomes a tale of intractable, adorable, repugnant hilarity, that leaves much more to be revealed of the struggle of the passionately contrived than of the all-American hero, who is also a vampire (maybe?).
So to come to the matter of the truth: who is Tommy Wiseau? Where was he born? From where did he get his near-bottomless funds? Yet these are not the matters with which James Franco’s The Disaster Artist concerns itself most, for they have no conceivable answers; none that the fan of the cult sensation would want to know without ruining the baffling wonder of the film’s auteur.
The Disaster Artist succeeds most in singing the song of Wiseau’s life, which is more farce than ballad, and in its moments of awkward hilarity, uncanny in their similarity to the original work, there is a glimmer of sincerity captured from The Room that shines through bright and weird.. The Disaster Artist succeeds here in revealing this, in the moments of total insanity through which the actors of The Room persevere.
Don’t expect any answers, who would need them. The Disaster Artist is a film about a failure that outlived success, and essential to any fan of the bizarre testament to human hubris that is The Room.