The Disaster Artist ★★

Say what you will about The Room (I'm on record as a huge fan who's seen it several times) – it’s genuinely weird and trying to process real pain, however ineptly and uncomfortably.

This, on the other hand, is ordinary, phony, and basically chickenshit. Franco's either not comfortable diving into the thornier, darker aspects of Wiseau and Sestero's relationship (though he leaves in a Talented Mr. Ripley reference from the much better book this is based on that makes little sense without the surrounding context) or any complex feelings Wiseau might have over his passion project being viewed as a big joke, or not capable enough a filmmaker to do so. While we do see flashes of Wiseau the egomaniac and Wiseau the misogynist (particularly as he directs his love scene), Franco ultimately wants him to be liked, and that fatally undermines the movie. And while Franco's directorial touch isn't incompetent, per se, nor is it robust enough to form the kind of dialogue with Wiseau's film that Tim Burton did with his subject's work in Ed Wood, where Burton's expressionism contradicts and also heightens Wood's own odd, slapdash approach.

His performance, meanwhile, rarely transcends impression, despite the fact that he's previously shown himself capable of taking characters who could easily be caricatures and imbuing them with real sensitivity (I'm not high on Spring Breakers, but that shows he could have pulled this character off with a better director and a more probing script). He has the awkward laugh, the slurred speech, the drooping eyelids and the general aura of uneasy cluelessness down, but missing is the real sadness at the core of his being, replaced by a more superficial one. The film has a few laughs – you'd have to be Wiseau-level inept not to get them out of these circumstances – but I'm a bit stunned this isn't being viewed as a huge missed opportunity.