The Room

The Room

If I were one to make a "Shame" list of films I hadn't seen but ought to, it would have only included this film. I have read so much about it since its apotheosis as the worst movie of all time that I knew almost everything that was to happen (except, somehow, the ending--though I might have known and just forgotten--come to think of it why would anyone care about spoiling this movie?). Whatever I write here cannot possibly top the width and breadth of reactions to this, nor can I add anything to the accumulating mythology behind Wiseau's mysterious persona. For my money, the idea that he might be D.B. Cooper is the most appealing one floated.

So knowing as much as I did, I still managed to be surprised by it. Its ineptitude in terms of writing, direction, acting, and general existence didn't shock me; clips from the film had prepared me for most of that, and reviews covered the rest. Sarah's epic series of questions birthed by viewing this more or less covers everything nonsensical about it, and I recommend you read it. Its thoroughness is matched only by how amusing it is. What surprised me about it, however, is how intense the misogyny is.

Many have floated the idea that Wiseau made this as a response to at least one ex-girlfriend. I can't say I doubt it, but even if he didn't, it's pretty clear he has some issues with women. This film is a masculinist power fantasy about the inherent evils of women--count the number of times "bitch" is said, weird accent or not--that glorifies the man in the most hamfisted ways. He's successful but exploited, he's taking care of an orphan and very accepting and loving in his own bizarre way, he's good-natured for the most part, and he's supposedly smart and athletic. He's not portrayed as perfect (though maybe Wiseau thinks this is some sort of model human being; I dare not presume), but he's just slightly flawed enough that, were this made by someone with a grip on reality, he'd be sympathetic. The man Lisa cheats on him with is given at least a little leeway. Lisa is depicted as a sociopath, vicious, stupid, and petty. Wiseau hates her so much, he writes in that her mother has breast cancer (not that anyone in the film seems to care). And then, its ending makes it clear that this whole film is just a temper tantrum of "they'll all regret it" in a gross, exploitative moment of insulting emotional glurge.

And yet, despite this, somehow, the ineptitude of the filmmaking somehow makes this all seem like part of the myriad flaws rather than the disgusting display that it is. It's laughed off, because this film is just so awkward (the football scene in the apartment, where four people are present and passing the ball, but only two are ever shown at the same time? who edited this?!) that few look past it to see the gross, sexist angst dwelling there with anything but mild amusement. Wiseau is seen not as evil, but stupid, and therefore, he's some sort of reverse-fool. He speaks vileness with impunity because we're laughing at him, rather than wisdom.

December count: 97/100.

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