The Disaster Artist

A thoroughly engaging salute to an incredibly disastrous film. How often does that happen?

Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. Or so they say.

They also say that one man’s treasure is another man’s garbage. Case in point was the events that led to the production of the 2003 indie film – The Room – which was made from a production budget of $ 6 million but returned only $1800 after two weeks of public screening. It was one of those ‘so bad it’s good’ movies that over time, gained cult status for its bizarre narrative and off the wall performance by writer, producer, actor and director Tommy Wiseau. The Disaster Artist not only serves as a memoir on the making of The Room, it is unexpectedly one of the most engaging films about friendship and perhaps, over time, will even gain cult status of its own.

Although The Disaster artist is intended as a biographical dramedy and succeeds as such, the film triumphs on many levels, starting with the portrayal of bromance between Tommy and his lead actor and co-producer Greg Sestero, who would later go on to chronicle events leading to the titular film. Playing the duo are the Franco brothers – Dave as Greg, and James as Tommy, with such poignancy and chemistry that we actually believe they are Tommy and Greg and want them to succeed. James Franco, known for outrageously hilarious bromance films from Pineapple Express to the bold and equally scandalous The Interview (with Seth Rogen as a frequent cohort) is in top form and perhaps his best turn as both the lead actor and director. Another rare achievement is Franko’s wide range delivered in the same film. While he is absolutely hysterical throughout this film, Franco’s real achievement is an auteur playing an auteur with the kind of convection that instantly makes Tommy Wiseau some sort of mystery man without solving or speculating on the mystery surrounding him. But Franco is just one person. Across the length and breadth of this film, there are plenty of characters, cameos and Easter eggs in on for the ride. Yet at no point does the film seem too busy or crowded or stuffed.

It gets to a point where we are not sure if we are laughing at one man’s failure or one man’s success at depicting another man’s failure. Sure, it’s a film within a film and we’ve seen films that are love letters to some of the greatest eras in Hollywood. What makes The Disaster Artist a remarkable standout is the fact that this is a moving and at times inspiring love letter to a film that not only flopped, but flopped spectacularly. Which is why the big beating heart of the film is its artistic calling on what perception means to the beholder. Franco and everyone else involved just found gold in what everyone else discarded as trash.

Rating: ★★★★½

About Lloyd Bayer

Besides his passion for travelling, photography and scuba diving, Lloyd is a prolific film critic having contributed hundreds of film reviews to web and print journals, including IMDb and local daily Khaleej Times.