Thoughts On: The Disaster Artist - The Passive Truth That Conceals A Lie

08/01/2018

The Disaster Artist - The Passive Truth That Conceals A Lie

Thoughts On: The Disaster Artist (2017)

The story behind the making-of what is often considered the worst movie ever made: The Room.


The Disaster Artist is a solid movie. Having not seen The Room, I went into this because I knew that it wasn't just a comedy that pokes fun at a bad movie, and I certainly think that this is the strongest aspect of The Disaster Artist. The performances and the recreations, however, did not live up to what I'd heard - they're not half bad though. And whilst I had fun with this and appreciate its attempts at showing the positive side of The Room in telling a tale about naivety and humour, I'm not fully sold by its conclusion.

The Disaster Artist tries to make us feel good about someone else's failure. What's more, it reaffirms a joy in relishing this failure. To risk being a stick in the mud, I have to say that neither of these things are commendable. There is a deeper truth bound to the acceptance of failure that is featured in this narrative, and there is also a more complex truth in recognising the joy and humour that comes attached to failure, but, The Disaster Artist did not capture any of these truths in my view. To a degree, this film attempts to just show the truth as is, and as well as could be with the use of the making-of biography, The Disaster Artist. However, there is a passivity about this projection of reality. This film then seemingly holds a lot back and refuses to take any risks in formulating a commentary on The Room and its filmmakers.

Ultimately, The Disaster Artist is a mere extension of the theatre that exists around this film. In such, it seems that everyone knows that The Room is a bad movie, and everyone knows what and who we are laughing at, but isn't willing to say so. This sense is emphasised by The Disaster Artist as it builds to a point at which it almost shows us what it could be like to be Tommy Wiseau, a constant butt of a never ending joke, but ends up going nowhere, instead, merely tries to say we're doing something positive in laughing at his film.

We can never truly know, but it seems that Wiseau fully embraces being this joke and genuinely finds some meaning in people coming together around his film - maybe he just likes the attention and is somehow trying to save face. However, could you step into his shoes and be the guy who made The Room and not want to crawl into a hole and die? I certainly don't think I could handle his life - whatever his life is. And if he is somehow able to accept how he is seen and be comfortable behind those sunglasses he always wears, I think he has to be one of the strongest men that ever lived. I was, however, hoping to be given some insight into how Wiseau can get up every morning and swallow almost every ounce of his pride - or just tell himself the most elaborate lies - every time he has to confront the existence of The Room. Even if Wiseau has never expressed anything to suggest a real answer, I would have appreciated the balls it would have took for Franco to take the movie one step further and say something himself.

The harsh question that this movie should have then confronted is: Are Wiseau and co. a group of dumb kids that deserve to be bullied because we know they can't, or won't, recognise the fact that they're being bullied, or, are they more like disabled children that everyone kind of includes in their games in a snide and fluctuatingly passive-aggressive manner? This is what I see when looking at The Room and The Disaster Artist. We're either laughing at it and Wiseau because we know our laughter will be absorbed and accepted somehow. Or, we're patting The Room and its filmmakers on the back and thanking them for being our stupid dancing monkey. These truths aren't pleasant, and though they may seem negative, I don't think that they are lies. It is then too bad that no one seems to want to stare these truths in the face as I believe that there could be an awful lot to be said about them.

In the end, I don't like the idea of laughing at a bad movie too much. This is why I've never seen The Room; it is a meta-tragedy that is not recognised as one. The Disaster Artist is proof that the meta-tragedy of The Room - that fact that its existence itself was a tragedy of sorts for all involved, a tragedy that they can only ever laugh at now - is not taken seriously. This film then pretends to have empathy, understanding and an interest in the meta-tragedy, but only ends up romanticising that act of laughing at a bad movie; it fails in detaching The Room from its filmmakers and having everyone laugh at it. But, whilst I think this should have to be a key component of a film of this kind, there is also something - maybe a lot - missing: we never see both sides of  the screen in enough detail; there isn't a close enough focus on those making, or the audience seeing, The Room. Instead, the shtick of Wiseau being a mystery and no one knowing about him is used to convey passive half-truths. Ultimately, this, in my view, isn't a movie that needed making - not like this. I hold true to the fact that I had a good time with The Disaster Artist and so don't want to appear to be condemning anyone, but, the more I reflect upon this film, the more disappointing it becomes; this is an invite and a celebration of mindlessness in the most melancholic way - and that is certainly not a good thing in my books.

To end, I turn to you. Am I missing something and being too critical having not seen The Room? If you were to be as honest as you possibly could with yourself, how do you feel about The Room and about its filmmakers? What's more, do you think that The Disaster Artist captures this truth and builds upon it to say something worth saying?






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