By Adam Solomons
“Plastic spoons only”, a stern steward told us moments before the late-night screening of The Room was to begin. The packed-out audience in Soho’s Prince Charles theatre cheered. Some had been drinking. Some were in tuxes. I, a killjoy, was neither. But by the end of night I vowed to return, regretting that I probably won’t ever have as much fun at the cinema again.
Tommy Wiseau’s The Room stars Wiseau and Greg Sestero as Johnny and Mark, best friends used and exploited by a beautiful seductress named Lisa (Juliette Danielle). Her gameplaying tears an irrevocable hole in their friendship, and poisons Johnny’s existence to the point where he feels his only hope is to put a gun in his mouth, and fire. Though influenced by the films of David Lynch and James Dean, however, The Room can’t help avoid a comedy of errors in its acting, writing and production. It might be the worst film ever made.
Quite why the sadomasochistic cinemagoers of late-night London are turning out for the film in immense numbers is on one hand baffling, and on the other completely unsurprising. The atmosphere in the Prince Charles was surely helped by a brief pre-film appearance by Wiseau and Sestero, in the flesh, signing merchandise and posing for selfies with ticketholders.
Tommy’s 15 minutes of fame have dragged on for 15 years – the film celebrates the fifteenth anniversary of its release in August. Public interest in the film peaked late last year with the release of The Disaster Artist, directed by and starring James Franco and his younger brother Dave. Allegations of sexual misconduct put an end to James Franco’s hopes for a Best Actor Oscar nomination, but the film will nonetheless be challenging Call Me By Your Name for Best Adapted Screenplay. The Room wasn’t nominated for anything upon release; Wiseau will just have to wait for an Honorary Academy Award, in the vein of Akira Kurosawa and Jean-Luc Godard.
You’d think if any film in the world was open to a self-indulgent rant it’d be The Room. And maybe if critics had paid attention to its release some might exist. But ultimately Johnny’s battle against his exploitation by others – and more importantly Tommy’s fight to get the film made – endure as genuinely inspiring tales of weird and wonderful creativity taking on mainstream usual-ism. Tommy is Hollywood’s David Brent, with a more distinctive look and a mysterious Polish accent. We should celebrate that the film can still be enjoyed so much.