Director : Tommy Wiseau
Year Of Release : 2003
Principal Cast : Tommy Wiseau, Greg Sestero, Juliette Dannielle, Phillip Haldiman, Carolyn Minnott, Robyn Paris, Scott Holmes.
Approx Running Time : 99 Minutes
Synopsis: Johnny is a successful banker who lives happily in a San Francisco townhouse with his fiancée, Lisa. One day, inexplicably, she gets bored with him and decides to seduce his best friend, Mark. From there, nothing will be the same again.
Incomprehensibly awful, Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 flick The Room has returned to prominence only thanks to the commercial success of The Disaster Artist, and it’s easy to see why this Ed Wood-level misfire has come in for cult acclaim in the years since. Wiseau, credited with almost single-handedly creating this turkey as director, writer, executive producer, regular producer and star, appears to have almost zero ability to craft a piece of cinematic fiction, with the film’s utterly insane goofs, continuity errors, abysmal acting, rancid dubbing and general fucked-uppedness making for a film that’s so utterly bereft of entertainment as anything other than a bizarre so-bad-it’s-good success.
Johnny (Wiseau) is a successful San Francisco banker. His fiancee, Lisa (Juliette Dannielle), is ostensibly faithful but engages in an affair with Johnny’s best friend Mark (Greg Sestero) out of “boredom”, something her mother (Carolyn Minnott). After discovering the affair, Johnny attempts to discover the identity of his Lisa’s lover. Everything else here is pure wank.
If it wasn’t so straight-faced, I’d almost suspect The Room of being some weird comedy nobody understands. It’s such a bizarre screen experience, so atonal and astonishingly obtuse, with character so borderline sociopathic and nonsensical, with dialogue so clunky they belong in low-budget porn, The Room’s manufacture as a work of art beggars belief. It’s hard to fathom how any distributor might touch it. Paradoxically hubristic and voyeuristic (there’s no fewer than five separate cringeworthy sex scenes, two within the first twenty minutes with characters we’ve barely met) The Room is literally the most laughably bad film I’ve ever endured. I can see how it has gained fame as a late-night screening favourite, with audience participating in reviling it similarly to The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s cult status.
The Room is a film a psychiatrist might describe as schizophrenic. Wiseau’s script makes not a lick of sense, with characters changing tone and motivation several times through the film without any explanation at all. Wiseau himself obviously thinks he’s Shakespeare or Orson Welles, but he can neither write (the film began life as a stage play, before becoming an unpublished 500 page novel, ending up as the garbled travesty of storytelling we are left with today) nor act (honestly, Wiseau makes porn acting look positively Oscar-worthy), and the film’s badgering hodge-podge style and editing, not to mention storytelling that goes utterly nowhere, is laughable. In fact, I laughed a lot at this movie. Not with it, at it.
At one point, Lisa’s mother, played by the truly hilarious Carolyn Minnott, divulges her breast cancer diagnosis to Lisa and it lands with the emotional weight of a dropped turd. In fact, it’s never even mentioned again, and one wonders what it was even included in the film for. This is the kind of thing The Room has oodles of. Non-sequiturs and subplots that go literally nowhere, characters that appear and disappear without explanation (it should be noted, there’s a character called Denny (Phillip Haldiman) who just turns up every ten minutes for literally no reason whatsoever, other than some ludicrous “Johnny wanted to adopt him” excuse, and he reminded me of a character called Kramer on a sitcom named Seinfeld) and oh my god I think this film is truly awful.
Literally, there is no excuse for this. I did try and view this film as a comedy, and to a point I was just staggered people ever paid money to see this in a cinema other than ironically. Ironic watching The Room is about the only way it’ll hold up. Five minutes after nearly having his head blown off by an aggressive thug on one of the film’s many green-screened rooftop scenes, Denny spends a few minutes casually throwing a football around with Johnny on that very same roof, as if nothing had happened. It’s this incongruity and in-the-moment scripting of The Room that makes for aggravating viewing. It’s a bizarre thing, this, because behind Wiseau’s choppy editing and scattershot direction there’s a glimmer of a heartbeat of a pulse of a basic story here. Okay, no there isn’t. To be honest, if I see another film where grown men throw a football around as they “banter” in such an asinine way, I’m gonna come right back to this film. Wiseau’s focus on men throwing the ball around is uncomfortably weird.
The Room has the hallmarks of Wiseau’s self-confidence as a director, actor and writer. He sees himself as an auteur, and is incapable of discerning quality within himself or others. His cast, picked from headshots rather than actual auditions, are roundly terrible, despite the utterly shit script they’re forced to deal with – one apocryphal story from the film’s production established that much of the script’s dialogue was unutterable nonsense, largely indecipherable – and the camerawork, while competent, is indifferent. Framing is, in a strange twist, actually pretty decent considering the ability of Wiseau, although the aforementioned green-screen rooftop scenes, shot on a soundstage, are really, really bad.
The enigma of Tommy Wiseau has grown since The Room’s debut in 2003. As mysterious away from the camera as he is appallingly awful in front of it (and behind it), Wiseau’s directorial, producing and acting work here is quite astonishingly bad, leaving few arguments to his film being described as one of the worst films ever made, which itself is quite the moniker. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t attempting to be so serious, so legitimate. The contrast between ambition and execution has never been so stark, with the apparent desire for a quality drama never manifesting in any meaningful manner. The Room is one of the most bizarre films I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen some truly shitty stuff in my time, but this one almost – almost – takes the cake. Everything you’ve heard is true: The Room is awful.
© 2017, Rodney Twelftree. All rights reserved.