Book Review: The Disaster Artist

The Disaster Artist:  My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made, by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

One of the more chilling lines in this book–and there are a lot–is when the actor that the author replaces comments that “The Room” was going to be on his imdb profile forever.  This is a compelling piece of work if you, like me, are fond of bad movies and stories of bad movies [1].  There is something glorious about something so incompetent as this film is and the way that it went from just an ordinary bad film into something so bad that it’s good, and likely the sort of work that closed off a part of its director and writer’s heart forever.  What this book does and does so well is to set a terrible movie in a compelling context that allows you to see the story of how it was made and get to know at least a little into the dark mind of the person who made it.  The book makes a lot of references to the excellent film/book “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” although Tommy Wiseau doesn’t appear to be very talented at anything except acquiring enough money to make a vanity project that turned into a cult classic for being an unintentional comedy of epic proportions.

This book is written in a highly nonlinear fashion that increases the interest of its subject material, as if the author was not merely the writer, but someone putting together a puzzle as best as possible to solve a mystery and present it to the reader.  Part of that mystery is Tommy Wiseau the man, someone whose background is mysterious and full of subterfuge.  What is his real name?  Where does he come from?  How old is he?  Where did he get his money?  There are all obvious questions that the man is deeply unwilling to explore.  The other part of the mystery is how this man with a dark past and a lot of unexplored and frustrated longings ended up creating a baffling film that violates all sense of plausibility and continuity and that meant as a cry of the heart ends up being riotously funny to anyone who sees it.  Although he embraces the humor now, this film was entirely serious and the author proves it through a detailed description of a tense and dramatic and painfully awkward filming process that included some terrifying sex scenes and several sets of decreasingly competent film crew and some cringeworthy acting and dialogue that includes such meme-worthy lines as:  “Hi doggie” and “You are tearing me apart, Lisa.”

This is a book that delivers on its promise of giving an insider’s perspective on the making of a terrible but somehow compelling film.  The book also delivers on its promise of giving a plausible if dark tale of how Wiseau grew up on the wrong side of the iron curtain and made his way through illegal immigration first to France and then through sponsorship by a relative to the United States where he formed a new identity and kept his own dark personal history private.  Part vanity project, part hopeless dream, “The Room” appears to be a much more tragic tale than it would appear at first glance.  It is the way that someone poured their passion and soul into a work which cost $6 million to make and looks extremely cheap but which demonstrates an appalling lack of talent and ability in its creation.  Someone the film caught on as an unintentional comedy in large part because of the lack of self-awareness of Wiseau and the bravery of the rest of the cast and crew in limping to the finish.  This film may not discourage someone from dreaming of Hollywood success, but at the same time it is an ode to friendship and to sheer stubbornness in pursuing the dream of stardom.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/03/31/i-read-bad-books-so-you-dont-have-to/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/12/18/the-next-best-thing/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/04/20/just-my-luck/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/01/31/stories-not-genres/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Book Reviews, History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Book Review: The Disaster Artist

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Teh Itteh Bitteh Book Of Kittehs | Edge Induced Cohesion

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