Thursday, March 31, 2011


The Room - 2003

Directed by Tommy Wiseau

Dear Tommy,

Perhaps The Room isn’t a success in quite the way you envisioned. The movie is highly lauded in some circles, but with mock applause and snickering and not with a sense of tragedy and purgation, which is what I think you wanted. At the risk of being presumptuous, I take it The Room is something close to an autobiography. I take it you wanted The Room to destroy the one who broke your heart. The Room has the unmistakable tone of a spiritual confession, as if you were blanching your soul so you could end your suffering and perhaps transfer your suffering to others. I’m not saying the movie provides the same state of grace as anything written by St. Teresa of Avila or St. John of the Cross, but if nominations come up for secular sainthood my ballot gets your name on it.

Tommy, The Room is the one film I can show to everybody I know and not have them hate me for it. Everyone understands it. They stick with it until the end. That’s a very rare quality in a movie. In fact, I don’t know of any other movie that has such a universal quality. Avatar may be the highest grossing movie of all time, but I know at least twenty people who found it as simplistic and hackneyed as I did. What you’ve done with a fraction of the budget and an atom of the technical talent is amazing and gives me hope for the future of filmmaking.

People say The Room is poorly written and badly acted, but don’t believe them when they say it, Tommy. And even if I tell you the same thing, don’t believe me when I say it either. People say it to hurt you because The Room has hurt them. The Room doesn’t just cut to the bone, it cuts through the marrow. The Room could cut through a three-hundred year old oak tree and expose its hidden life and reveal the events it didn’t want to reveal. That’s the real reason why people love The Room, Tommy, because it is a private exhibition made public, and we love confessions and we love gossip because we’re too timid to make a confession ourselves. We’re really without depth and breadth, and when something towers above us, Tommy, we wonder how something could possibly get so high.

But that doesn’t mean The Room doesn’t provide a healthy amount of laughter, Tommy. Much of it is warranted and some of it less so. Why this is so I don’t really know. Perhaps the laughter has its roots in a form of uncomfortable recognition. Who of us hasn’t done or said something stupid that one regrets? The Room is full of misogynistic asides which sneak in through a literary sleight of hand: they are the hidden lines of a man who has truly been hurt and betrayed. If I had written them I would have edited them out, not because they were really bad but because they would reveal too much, and my ego would never let itself go that unprotected, not even in the guise of a fictional character. Don’t regret any of the lines you have written because people laugh at them, Tommy. They laugh simply to protect themselves.

Forgive me for saying this, Tommy, but I’m not entirely certain The Room has anything to say about the nature of love. No matter how many times I see it I’m never convinced that anybody in the movie really loves another person. I don’t think you intended this. I don’t think you intended to make a movie where the characters seemed devoid of love. I do, however, think The Room at least offers a glimpse into the nature of jealousy and obsession. It’s a strange ambiguity, Tommy. The events in The Room are driven to destruction because of a love that mutates into some sort of multi-tentacled hentai monster that sticks itself inside everything and clutches everything everywhere. Love may be buried somewhere deep inside its dark heart. Or maybe I’m just blind to the innards of love. Maybe I’ve been hurt bad enough and been sad long enough not to see that love is laying in wait for me, but that’s a big maybe, Tommy.

If I have one regret about The Room, Tommy, it’s that you won’t be able to make a movie like it ever again. I don’t know what fame is like, but they say once you’ve had it you can never be the same person again. In a different age, when it was easier to go unnoticed, perhaps you would have been given the chance to make another film, with your directorial innocence still uncorrupted. It’s all impossible now. The Room was an event that can never be replicated.

And so I ask you, Tommy, where can you possibly go from here? Do you make another film as if The Room never happened or do you make something self-conscious like Fellini’s 8 ½ and react to the success of The Room? The next step won’t be easy.

Tommy, I wish the world would have left you alone so you could remain alone and make innocent movies.