*The above clip is recommended listening to accompany this article.
By Neil Mace & Erica Canela
‘The Room’ – A classic film for all the wrong reasons
‘Citizen Kane’. ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. ‘The Godfather’. ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’.
Chances are that you’ve seen at least one of the first four films that I mention above. As for the latter, you’re probably unaware of its standing in movie history.
‘The Room’ is the greatest film that you’ve never seen. It has it all – love (clichéd), drama (poorly done), violence (for no obvious reason), acting (to some degree) and longwinded shots of San Francisco (to fill time). It is a contemporary examination of relationships and ill deeds.
The film was written by, directed, produced and starred in by the irreplaceable Tommy Wiseau.
No one really knows where this man came from. His accent in the film is indistinguishable, bordering on somewhere between American and put-on Eastern European. He also appears to be under the influence of drink and/or drugs during the film. This might explain why the film turns out the way it does.
The premise is quite simple – Johnny (Wiseau) is a successful businessman who is due to marry his sweetheart Lisa (Juliette Daniel). However, Lisa is not a good woman and has a very sudden and unjustified change of heart. Johnny’s best friend Mark (Greg Sestero) is on the scene and…well you can guess the rest.
This shallow storyline seems to have been the only ‘plot’ that was considered for the film’s entire 99 minute running time. The remainder of the film is made up of inane conversations that provide nothing to the story & long, drawn out scenes (the first one is noteworthy due to how uncomfortable it will make you feel).
The lack of storylines is a double-edged sword however. Wiseau resorts to filming exchanges like the two below:-
‘I did not hit her’ scene
‘Hello Doggie’ scene
In the first scene you may have noticed a complete lack of respect for domestic violence – it is even laughed about. In the second…well, it speaks for itself. We’ve all fallen foul of not recognising someone because they were wearing glasses haven’t we? I still don’t understand the tone of the music either.
Aside from the main three protagonists, the cast is completed by the peripheral characters, Denny and Claudette. Denny is supposedly a teenage orphan that Johnny has taken a shine to. The problem here is that Wiseau seems to have cast a man in his late twenties to play the role. As for Claudette, she is Lisa’s mother. She spends most of the film having the same conversation with Lisa, but throws in hugely important news that is quickly dismissed and not brought up again (terminal illness, money problems). Her visits to see Lisa also seem to conveniently fit exactly the length of the scene – she enters at the beginning and leaves at the end. She is never ‘just there’.
‘The Room’ has developed a cult following and is regularly played in cinemas across America for special occasions. Fans dress up as the characters and toss footballs to each other (you will need to see the film to understand why). It has the same type of following that ‘The Sound of Music’ enjoys – just in less mainstream, ironic sort of way.
I suggest you try and find it somewhere – or at least look for the numerous YouTube clips that fans have posted. You will never feel the same again.