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Written by / 5/12/2015 / No comments / ,

MAKING TRAGIC CAMPY NOIR SENSE OF TOMMY WISEAU'S THE ROOM

2003 Grade: F Camp Value: A
Gotta give credit to writer/director/actor/producer Tommy Wiseau. He paid tribute to Orson Welles from a different source than Fred Flintstone, Bruce Lee, Woody Allen and many others have – for there’s no LADY FROM SHANGHAI trick-mirror homage in THE ROOM, considered the “CITIZEN KANE of bad movies"...

Original Smashing Tantrum
Whether he admits it or not, it’s Charles Foster Kane that Tommy imitates at the end of his disastrously brilliant independent film turned accidental cult phenomenon, destroying the titular pad during his dramatic tantrum caused by betrayal and heartache. And while Orson was beginning what would be a maligned yet brilliant career as a director, actor, and voice-over artist, Tommy Wiseau obviously needed to get himself... including long dyed black hair, a short muscular body and a severely limited acting talent hindered further by what sounds like an Austrian accent... onto the big screen, to simply prove his worth as a cinematic presence since he probably would never be hired otherwise: Make your own ground if you can’t stand on theirs... He was buying the stairway to Hollywood. 

Thus THE ROOM, if anything else, is more of an attempted Acting Reel for the sake of the leading man… Outright propaganda for Tommy as well as a showcase for his celebrated character, Johnny, a banker who lives in a San Francisco loft with a cheating fiancĂ©, Lisa, played by Juliette Danielle, a sultry vixen with the prowess of an evil femme fatalle, having a steamy affair with Johnny’s Best Friend...

Greg Sestero as Mark
Enter the vulnerable male co-lead, Mark, and Greg Sestero looks the most like an actor. The character is a sheepish dolt yet wolfishly cheats with his best friend’s girl, shifting the genuine vulnerability to Wiseau’s Johnny as both dudes share Lisa in abundant sex scenes, taking up a good percentage of screen time – light "porn" without penetration scored by a glossy soundtrack while every scene, sensual or otherwise, provides a gateway of San Fran B-Roll shots that are totally random and hardly Establishing.

Lisa in hot red
Other characters that fill a... dare it be said... Film Noir template include a young guy (or old boy) with the heart of gold peaking into the dark side, exhibiting a creepy penchant for his mentor’s girl… That being Denny, a pseudo drug-addict who looks around thirty but is a teenager Johnny's paying through college, making random "TV sitcom neighbor" type appearances that further establishes our shaggy hero as an extremely super fella. In fact, Johnny is spoken of endlessly. Even when Tommy “the actor” isn’t on screen, entering and exiting like a stiff muscular "Mollusk" (quoting Rifftraxx), or throwing a football around with his buddies, he’s talked about by Lisa and her food-fetish best girl-friend, her lively dying mother, and of course, her lover i.e. Johnny's guilt-tortured best friend…

Welles as Lime
So when Johnny does breeze in, Wiseau’s East European accent makes the character that much intriguing, bizarre, and undeniably classic. And while Johnny is the main character and the plot-driving, expository McGuffin of his own tepid tale... looking forward to an upcoming wedding and celebrating his surprise birthday party while being cheated on... he’s also his own special guest star throughout, making him more of an anticipated off-screen THIRD MAN Harry Lime than main player Charles Foster Kane: after all the promotion, his eventual input means everything. 

"Frankly, Lisa..."
Thus, Lisa is really the true leading role: She alone holds all the cards, and is playing the deck in a twisted, cunning, mischievous fashion… Like all evil Noir dames, there’s no limit to her meticulous venom. It might be Johnny’s ROOM, but it’s really Lisa’s agenda-driven ride. In fact, while Tommy's influences border on Orson Welles and James Dean (his words), Lisa, at the very end, becomes a sort of millennial Scarlet O'Hara... Her 11th hour desperation could have led Mark to spout the famous Clark Gable damning farewell, and it would have fit. 

Official Room Blu Ray
And so, whatever Wiseau attempted with THE ROOM is unclear. Like the Italian director of TROLL 2, Tommy insists his film was meant for laughs so basically – all this poking-fun-at was intended all along. But it just doesn’t seem like a vehicle that’s in on its own joke and punchline. The extremely serious melodramatic manner in which the actors throw uneven dialogue around, including tormented breakdowns along with an omnipresent heated sexual tension and intense male bonding...

Having a Ball
If this were in fact a “black comedy” like the man himself insists, it would not have been this “good” because frankly, there’s nothing funny about THE ROOM; at least not on purpose. Like mentioned earlier, it all seems an outright, contrived attempt to make Wiseau a bonafide movie star; and if that failed than writer, producer, or director credit would do... 

And perhaps he was trying to tell us something within the story itself, about himself: Greg Sestero’s Mark, the more conventional, better-looking pretty boy, is preferred by Johnny's own fiancĂ©, whom he lives with and will (eventually want to) die for: So maybe Lisa’s character represents the Hollywood industry, preferring the cookie-cutter American babe to a beefy, bizarre Euro stud? Either way, without Tommy Wiseau's insanely original style, and everything else he brings to the table, there would be no ROOM at all. For he not only made this movie, he completely makes it. And we can only hope and pray TW attempts to write another serious art film. So far, he's playing into the wacky costume bestowed upon by his accidental aftermath as a pop culture bad movie court jester. But it's when he tries... way too hard... to be legitimate: therein the true glory lies.  
From Welles to Wiseau, we celebrate all those brave enough to make a film... any film!
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