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Film review: The Disaster Artist

James Franco courts catastrophe by telling the story of a notorious movie flop. Linda Marric is enchanted by the result

 

    It takes a certain amount of skill to take one of the worst, if not the worst movie ever made and turn the story behind its making into one the funniest, warmest and most tragic love stories ever told.

    Luckily for cinemagoers, that is exactly what James Franco has managed to achieve with his latest directorial outing The Disaster Artist.

    Based on actor Greg Sestero’s book of the same name, The Disaster Artist is a frank account about the making of The Room, a film which since its release in 2003 has gained global cult status, but sadly for all the wrong reasons, much to the dismay of its eccentric director Tommy Wiseau.          

    The story starts in San Francisco in the late ‘90s when Greg (Dave Franco), a fresh faced wannabe actor barely out of his teens, meets Tommy (James Franco), a bigger than life gothic figure with long dark hair and a thick eastern European accent. Soon the two strike up an unlikely friendship and decide to move together to LA to star in movies.

    What follows is an hilarious account of how, after failing to make it in Hollywood, Tommy decides to direct, star and produce his own movie: a film which is reputed to have cost Wiseau around $6 million to make.

    Director James Franco, who is said to have stayed in full Wiseau character even when directing, offers Tommy as a tragic and somewhat pathetic figure, but is careful to never mock or ridicule the man behind the character.

    Inhabiting  Wiseau’s distinctive accent, look and demeanour, James Franco allows us to warm to Tommy and sometimes even feel a certain amount of sadness for the unrequited love he has for Greg. Dave Franco puts in warm and heartening performance as the ever accommodating Greg, who seems to be the only person who has ever believed in Tommy, no matter how outrageous and outlandish his frequent lies get.

    Elsewhere Seth Rogen, who also produces the film, brings his usual brand of acerbic comedy to the proceedings as assistant director Sandy Schklair.

    With a brilliantly realistic retelling of a story, including shot-by-shot reenactments of some of TheRooms’s most infamous scenes, James Franco manages the impossible by making one of the funniest, most heartwarming films of the year. His attention to detail as a director, coupled with his fantastic depiction of the eccentric Wiseau, is proof yet again that he is one of the greatest acting talents of his generation.

    While The Disaster Artist is careful not to mock its subjects, it is however the most fun you are likely to have at the cinema this year. The Franco brothers manage to bring a huge amount of tenderness to a story which they could have easily turned into a straightforward comedy.

    On the whole, The Disaster Artist is a beautifully tragic love story, which is not only likely to withstand the test of time, but which will also make you fall in love with its subjects despite their many flaws. This is a must-see. 

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