The Disaster Artist (4 stars)

The Disaster Artist

Charming, sympathetic and very funny take on the making of cult monstrosity The Room

When James Franco came up with the idea to make a film about The Room, regarded in some quarters as the worst movie ever made, after reading Greg Sestero's tell-all book he wasn't sure who would play the film's eccentric director Tommy Wiseau. Johnny Depp was Wiseau's first choice, while Franco was actually his second, and so serendipitously he took on the role. Franco's performance is a blend of impressive mimicry and sincerity in a film that doesn't just laugh at the filmmaker's bizarre behaviour but instead tells a charming tale about friendship, reaching for your dreams and being an outsider trying to make it in Hollywood.

Just like Wiseau did with The Room, Franco directs, produces and stars, appearing alongside his younger brother Dave who takes on the role of Sestero, an aspiring actor when we meet him. The screenplay, written by the 500 Days of Summer duo Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber, includes lots of absurd details about the filming process, including the fact that The Room was shot on both 35mm and digital, making the cost of production extortionately high. Sadly, it is not as revealing about Wiseau's mysterious personal history or the source of his immense wealth.

The writers lovingly poke fun at their subject but they also generate a surprising degree of sympathy for Wiseau in his quest for stardom. Told by acting coaches and executives that he would be a better fit for a villain or vampire than a leading man, The Disaster Artist cannily creates a Universal monster style narrative for Tommy by showing how the tortured filmmaker isolated himself from his cast and crew due to massive ego issues.

The soundtrack is peppered with the kind of songs you can imagine Wiseau listening to for daily doses of inspiration, such as Corona's 'The Rhythm of the Night', and Franco plays this fascinating outsider with a cheeky wink, making for a very funny character study of a man who marched to the beat of his own drum.

General release from Wed 6 Dec.

The Disaster Artist

  • 4 stars
  • 2017
  • US
  • 1h 38min
  • 15
  • Directed by: James Franco
  • Cast: James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Josh Hutcherson, Zac Efron, Hannibal Buress, Melanie Griffith, Sharon Stone, Jacki Weaver
  • UK release: 6 December 2017

The story behind the making of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, regarded by many as the worst movie ever made; Franco plays the hapless auteur with impressive mimicry and sincerity. A charming tale about friendship, reaching for your dreams and trying to make it in Hollywood.