Disaster Artist review James Franco Dave FrancoYear: 2017
Director(s): James Franco
Writer(s): Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Region of Origin: US

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Rating: R
Digital, Color, 103 mins

Synopsis: Tells the story of two unlikely friends an their attempt to take on Hollywood. (Source)

In the best way, The Room is a perfect blend of ego, unintentional hilarity and unbridled, honest ambition. It’s a film that needs no introduction amongst cinephiles far and wide, and is already one of cinema’s most infamous passion projects. Though its absolutely a horrible film, there’s no denying the oddball sincerity behind it, and going even further, there’s no denying the unwitting charm of its creator, Tommy Wiseau. Wiseau is immediately as inscrutable as his trash masterpiece, and through him, James Franco has struck gold with The Disaster Artist. Based on first-hand accounts of Wiseau stalwart Greg Sestero, Franco has created a loving tribute to Wiseau and his delightfully bizarre creation, exploring a timeless story about the promise of Hollywood glamour, and those that risk everything to bask in its fleeting light. If anything, this film is proof that even the most likely of films can find an audience, and that behind every “bad” film, are the hopes and dreams of a beating heart.

The story kicks off with Greg Sestero (Dave Franco), a young Hollywood hopeful who meets a mysterious man named Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) in an acting class. Sestero is immediately blown away by Wiseau’s courage (for the lack of a better word), literally throwing his entire body into an absurdly over-the-top, Tennessee Williams monologue. Soon after hitting it off, the two decide to move to Hollywood, eager to chase their dreams of stardom. While facing insurmountable odds at every turn, however, the Sestero and Wiseau decide to risk it all on a gamble – a self-funded film about two best friends and the woman that comes between them. Fueled by ambition and Wiseau’s mysteriously bottomless bank account, the two set off to make movie history – even if not in the ways they were intending.

At its best, Franco’s film transforms Wiseau and Sistero’s absurd story into a celebration of artistic purity, friendship and fandom. Though these ideas would be enough to center on individually, Franco’s film illustrates the way they feed off each other, especially when it comes to how films are created and consumed. It’s also a reminder of why art isn’t merely born, but the product of a number of variables. Luckily, the film keeps Wiseau’s mysteries intact, never seeking to demystify the enigma surrounding the director’s eccentricity, but instead making his story feel like one we’ve lived. Through this, Franco shows how art flourishes and thrives through those who devour it, all while keeping an endearing friendship at the fore. With Franco and co. embracing Wiseau’s larger-than-life persona, the film is a full-on riot from start to finish, charting hilarious pitfalls lined with emotional truth and an irresistible underdog story.

Disaster Artist review Dave Franco Seth RogenThough the cast is littered with an ensemble that brilliantly captures their real-life counterparts, its James Franco’s performance as Wiseau, that will go down in the books. As Wiseau, Franco is the film’s heart, and nothing would work without that spot-on lazy eye, vampiric black hair and slurred, inexplicable accent. Franco, like the film, plays things straight, giving us a character whose idiosyncrasies are relentlessly funny, but somehow still grounded in sincerity. It’s this fine balance that the film rests on, with Franco not just capturing the elusiveness of Wiseau’s idiosyncrasy, but also his audacity. On the other end, Dave Franco works great as Sestero, giving us a way into Wiseau’s world and selling the film’s sweet friendship in a way that really sticks.

The Disaster Artist’s secret weapon is its complete lack of cynicism. With its us-vs-them slant, the film is an irresistible look at taking fate into our own hands. It’s an admirable trait by any measure, finding heart through relentless laughs but siding with Wiseau to explore how his story is one that we’ve all gone through in one way or another. If you’re already a fan of The Room, then this film is a perfect companion piece, interlocking both thematically and narratively in clever ways. For the uninitiated, the film still captures the magic of films in general, how by nature, they’re a shared experience bigger than any one person, and with a life all their own.

SG