Having witnessed the excruciatingly brilliant cult classic The Room, I asked myself whether I could find 10 things that were genuinely good about this film. I couldn’t, but the following is a list of the things that I felt came closest to being passably acceptable in a run-of-the-mill Hollywood flick.
1. The Mother: Although yes, she is horrifically wooden, she is still probably the best actor in this film (someone had to be). She is also the voice of sanity and asks the questions that we all hopelessly seek answers to: ‘Who are these characters?’ ‘What’s going on here?’ ‘Where did you get the drugs from?’ etc.
2. Tommy Wiseau’s line delivery: No, seriously. We all know how famously badly Tommy’s character (Johnny) delivers lines like “You’re tearing me apart Lisa!” or “I did not hit her, I did not! Oh, hi Mark”. But it might be because he wrote the script, or because he’s the only man alive who fully comprehends the enormity of some of the ideas conveyed by The Room, but I actually find him believable. I think there’s something genuine about Johnny when he tells Lisa that he could not go on without her. It’s how I imagine Tommy Wiseau himself talks every day.
3. The movie’s grip: For a plot that would be so ball-numbingly dull in literally any other film, the movie manages to grip the viewer from opening to closing credits. For our generation to be so awed by a somewhat minimalist production with over 10 minutes of passionless sex is frankly incredible.
4. Its mythological status: The film, like many classics, has begun to develop its own mythos. How was JR taken to jail so quickly? What is the meaning of the tuxedos? Was there a wedding scene cut from the final production?
5. Mark: Several girls have remarked that the character playing Mark (Greg Sestero) is quite attractive. The sight of him engaged in loud and passionate thrusting on a spiral staircase is infinitely more appealing than Jonny’s bare ass-cheeks and surprisingly muscular thighs.
6. Scenery: Some of the shots of San Francisco are actually quite attractive. The opening credits are like an advert for the city which someone decided to stick an hour and a half long movie to.
7. The coffee scene: A lot of people remember the coffee shop scene for the following, somewhat eye-opening conversation:
Mark: How was work today?
Johnny: Oh, pretty good. We got a new client and the bank will make a lot of money.
Mark: What client?
Johnny: I cannot tell you; it’s confidential.
Mark: Aw, come on. Why not?
Johnny: No, I can’t. Anyway, how is your sex life?
Prior to this, however, I actually quite like the introduction to this scene; people are shown buying coffee, it doesn’t seem too forced and there’s a reality here that makes the rest of the film seem like a drug induced nightmare, directed by Tommy Wiseau.
8. Johnny’s death: Some (probably most) might disagree, but I found the final shot of Johnny lying in a pool of blood, accompanied by the sounds of police sirens to be quite moving, or at least more moving than Denny, Mark and Lisa’s final farewells. The sight of Lisa crouched over Johnny’s prone body, bullet hole through head, and then demanding that he wakes up will always be stunning.
9. The Wardrobe: The red dress is an interesting prop in the film. It is a symbol of Johnny’s love for his fiancée Lisa (I assume she’s his fiancée; it’s never really made clear) and this can be seen when he presents it to her prior to their first (and longest) sex scene. Lisa then wears the dress to win the love of Mark:
Mark: [confused] I mean, the candles, the music, the sexy dress… I mean, what’s going on here?
Lisa: I like you very much. Lover… boy
The end of the film is when things become interesting; Johnny grabs the dress and proceeds to sodomise it (I really can’t find another word that appropriately describes his frantic hip-action) before rending the dress in twain- thus symbolising both the end Johnny and Lisa’s relationship and, of their love. I feel Wiseau intended this reading.
10. Finally, while some films are bad because the actors put no effort in, the plot is catered to a target market and generally the film can be forgotten about within a year, this is not the case with The Room. This film defies convention: Thriller? Comedy? High- budget Porno? Impossible to say with any certainty, but what is certain is that Wiseau is the flag bearer for so bad, it’s good.
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