The Disaster Artist review: James Franco directs and leads the cast as Tommy Wiseau, the legendary modern filmmaker who made The Room, the cult movie often referred to as ‘The Worst Film Ever Made’. This film however, is one of the best of the year.
The Disaster Artist review by Paul Heath.
If you’ve not heard of the 2003 movie The Room, then you’re absolutely missing out. Made for a reported $6 million, Tommy Wiseau’s film was initially a box-office disaster, hence the title of the dramatisation of its making, James Franco’s The Disaster Artist, which comes to the Toronto International Film Festival following a world premiere at the South by Southwest festival earlier this year.
James Franco directs and plays the lead of Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, a film that managed to put a great big smile on my face all of the way through at its press screening here at TIFF.
We open to find Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) on stage at an acting class somewhere in the middle of San Francisco at the end of the 1990s. He’s performing Waiting for Godot extremely badly, negative feedback instantly given by his acting teacher Jean Shelton (Melanie Griffith), who watches on head in her hands. Their performance is a work of art compared to Wiseau’s though, who immediately follows them with an improved meltdown in the middle of the stage.
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The positive thing to come out of the disastrous evening though is the instant friendship between the two ambitious actors, and they set out on a huge adventure with one another, including a 300-mile journey south to visit the roadside spot where James Dean was sadly killed decades before. It is here where they make a pact to stick with one another and spur each other on with their professional aspirations.
They journey to Los Angeles where Wiseau has an apartment, the two attempting to sign up to talent agencies to bag themselves the job to make them stars. After several set-backs, Wiseau decides to fully finance his own movie after writing a script that would eventually become The Room. The rest of the film charts the production, the friendships lost and gained during its turbulent shoot and what followed when it eventually saw a release.
I knew I would like The Disaster Artist within moments of the film starting. It has this unique charm that feeds well into the source material it’s trying to offer insight into, and the performers all clearly show they have the utmost respect for it. Littered with cameos from the likes of Judd Apatow, Zac Efron, Sharon Stone, Bryan Cranston and many more, the film is perhaps the best Hollywood insight movie for many years, and James Franco’s best performance since Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours, and I would not be at all surprised if he got a nomination for this. Dave Franco is also perfect as Sestero, and the two roles are perfect for the brothers as the relationship between Greg and Tommy is the key to the film working.
Lending support are also Seth Rogen as script supervisor Sandy Schklair, Jacki Weaver as Juliette Daniell, who famously plays Lisa in The Room, Alison Brie as Sestero’s girlfriend Amber and Jason Mantzoukas as tech rep Peter Anway – it’s basically a who’s who of American comedy.
Franco’s film had the daytime festival audience eating out of the palm of its hand for the majority, scene after scene resulting in tons of laughter, as well as heartfelt emotion – I cannot even begin to imagine how this played at the infamous Midnight Madness. the TIFF’s famous spot for fan reaction, the previous evening. It received a standing ovation, and I actually weeped on my way out, not because of the ending, but because of the whole experience of the last 100 minutes or so.
Very rarely do you get a film where you’d go right back into the theatre and watch it again immediately after the first screening and have the same emotions.
The Disaster Artist is an eye-watering, face-aching crowd-pleaser and the funniest film of the year by quite a mile. I cannot wait to see it again and again.
The Disaster Artist review by Paul Heath at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.
The Disaster Artist is currently awaiting a UK release date.