Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Room

The Room; drama, USA, 2003; D: Tommy Wiseau, S: Tommy Wiseau, Juliette Danielle, Greg Sestero

San Francisco. Johnny is a successful banker who is engaged to Lisa. However, Lisa is bored with him and has an affair with Johnny's best friend, Mark. Her mother advises her to stay with the financially stable Johnny, but Lisa is not interested. During a party, a suspicious Johnny finally finds out Lisa is cheating on him with Mark. Johnny goes crazy, takes a gun and shoots himself.

Some films disappear during their premiere, but later resurface and establish a puzzling cult reputation that transcends their limited background. Tommy Wiseau's feature length debut film, "The Room", should be included among them, since its reputation actually exploded a decade after its premiere and advanced into an Internet meme. While some critics resorted to superlatives to describe its alleged errors and disastrous mistakes, many of those comments were in fact exaggerated: nothing in "The Room" is particularly bad, but, sadly, nothing is particularly good, either. Its biggest sin is that is simply a bland, boring soap opera, a typical "girlfriend cheats on boyfriend" run-of-the-mill fodder, and nothing else, where nothing much happens and all the dialogues are so ordinary and melodramatic, without any ingenuity or creativity. It is basically an average flick, nothing different than TV-dramas from the 80s. However, the movie is still a 'guilty pleasure': it has some aura of bizarreness that makes all these predictable ingredients at least fun to watch. Much of this stems from some surreal, unusual and downright demented scenes and character's action that don't make much sense.

Director and writer Wiseau is fascinating persona: nobody knows when he was born, or where, but he somehow came to the US, gained a fortune, and made this film about the characters he doesn't understand. It's almost as if Wiseau is a man from the year 3000 who travelled back in time to the 21st century: he cannot understand these people, his actions are of an complete outsider, so he just tries to pretend to direct them into a drama because all the other movies from that time had these features. And yet, he has such sheer enthusiasm that one simply cannot get angry at him. One instance of his inconsistencies is the sequence on the rooftop where Mark tells a sad story about a girl who slept with a dozen men, so one of the guys got jealous and beat her up so much that she landed in a hospital. Johnny's reaction? He just laughs and then continues with some irrelevant anecdote. The best moments are precisely those where the humor was intentional: when Michelle enters and spots a guy in the room, she tells him "XYZ" ("eXamine-Your-Zipper") or the scene where Michelle is "slapping" Lisa with a pillow in a loving way. It is difficult to pinpoint Wiseau. Just imagine Godard, W. Anderson, J. Coen and Q. Tarantino, just even more autistic. And then imagine them without their creative-expressionistic style. And then imagine them directing just an ordinary soap opera story, but with themselves in the leading role. This comes close to "The Room": if it is a cult film, then at least it shouldn't have been so placid.


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