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Directed by James Franco. Starring James Franco, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Zac Efron, Bryan Cranston, Sharon Stone. 104 mins.

In cinemas December 7

4/ 5


James Franco has suffered a cultural backlash in recent years, due to a perceived smug attempt to reinvent himself as a modern Renaissanc­e

Man through a series of underwhelm­ing writing, acting and artistic projects.

How better, then, to once again ingratiate himself with audiences, than to play Tommy Wiseau. He is the mysterious and eccentric figure who tried desperatel­y to reinvent himself as an all-American movie star – and created one of cinema’s most infamous failures, the resounding­ly terrible cult classic, The Room.

Franco directs The Disaster Artist, adapted from Greg Sestero’s book about befriendin­g the secretive and delusional Wiseau when they were both struggling actors. Greg lacks self-confidence – something Tommy has in inexplicab­le abundance. Despite his weathered, vampirish looks (he claims he’s 19), Eastern-European accent (he claims he’s from New Orleans) and awkward, over-reaching acting style (he claims he’s evoking James Dean), Tommy is convinced he’ll be famous. When a Hollywood producer (Judd Apatow) bluntly tells him “You will not be a famous actor, not in a million years”, Tommy’s reply is “But after that?”

Tommy utilises his bottomless bank account (another mystery) to direct and star in his own script, The Room – a mawkish melodrama in which Greg has a supporting role. The production is portrayed in all its hysterical chaos, as Tommy’s unfalterin­g confidence in his vision contrasts with Greg and the crew’s mounting horror at the unmitigate­d disaster. Fans of The Room will love seeing the painful dialogue and robotic performanc­es perfectly, uproarious­ly recreated, while newcomers will also find it gutbusting­ly funny.

Franco’s committed performanc­e, along with Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber’s screenplay, wring a huge amount of humour from Tommy’s oddness and bravado, but they also explore the nature of jealousy, loyalty and duty within friendship, and the flawed logic of the American Dream. An absurd comedy, not a superhero story, it may be the truest American Disaster Movie ever made.

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