With a studio system in full force, churning out sequels remakes almost perpetually, It seems less likely that we will be able to behold a film that’s unafraid to take a chance and do something innovative. Like Star Wars was in the late 70s or the Orson Welles classic Citizen Kane. It’s this type of artistry that is an underlying current of the 2003 motion picture, The Room.
The Room starts off with Johnny, a relatively successful banker in San Francisco. He’s happily engaged with Lisa, best friends with Mark, and acting as a guardian to young Denny, what follows is the downward spiral of Johnny’s life as everything he holds dear ends up unravelling around him.
It is hard to separate this film from its origins, we have Tommy Wiseau, a freshly arrived immigrant who came to America to follow his dreams of being an actor. Mysteriously, he secures income and decides to make the film himself with some friends (much in the same way as an Indie film, only with a then-massive budget of $6 million). This is the ideal of the American Dream personified, and it bleeds into the very celluloid itself. This film is clearly Wiseau’s vision of the world and the struggle he undertook to capture it is evidenced throughout each shot.
We follow the film mostly from Johnny’s perspective and it’s clear to see. We never fully understand why certain characters behave the way they do, simply because Johnny doesn’t understand them himself. With sweeping panoramas of early 2000s San Francisco reinforces the idea of this man who has a seemingly idyllic life in such an idyllic setting. This only serves to make the thought of all this being taken away by elements beyond his control and understanding all the more unbearable. Plot points are established and abandoned in a surprisingly realistic fashion, it suggests that there is a world beyond the story of Johnny and enriches the narrative ten-fold.
The Room is an interesting tale of betrayal, it’s about hopes and dreams, as well as expectations. While it can be enjoyed in comparison with traditional film structures, it stands much more triumphantly as a testament to the no-compromise nature of the human condition, even if it goes against the pre-defined conventions of the time. It is refreshing to see such a unique take on a basic melodramatic premise and those innovations carrying over to the production and the execution of The Room. As a story, The Room is novel, as an audience to a film, you’re in for a treat and that’s a promise.
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