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The Room - Film Review

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Published March 29th 2013
You think you know what you're getting into when going to see a movie at the cinema. You enter the theatre, find a seat, cradle your popcorn between your legs and plop your drink into the right armrest. There's a quiet murmur throughout the advertisements, but as soon as the house lights dim, a hush falls over the theatre. There's a mutual understanding between the audience members that, besides the occasional laughter or toilet break, you will remain in your seats, in silence, till the end of the movie.

Disregard everything you're accustomed to upon entering 'The Room'.

Directed, written, produced, executively produced and acted by Tommy Wiseau, 'The Room' offers a truly unique movie-going experience. The film quickly becoming a cult classic upon its release, you can now find it regularly screened at various cinemas. As a first-timer, its easy to get swallowed into the enthusiastic –bordering on rabid– fan mentality, and what begins as an uncertain throw of a plastic spoon at the screen, quickly escalates to zealously hurling fistfuls of them, promptly accompanied by the crawling on the sticky cinema floor in the fervor to retrieve more.

Set in San Francisco, The Room revolves around a melodramatic love triangle involving a banker named Johnny (Tommy Wiseau), who's betrayed by his fiancé Lisa (Juliette Danielle), and his best friend Mark (Greg Sestero). Often described as the "best worst film ever made", The Room lives up to its title, with its contrived plot lines littered with potholes, its one-dimensional characters whose actors are interchangeable apparently, and its cheesy, misogynistic dialogue. However, far from being an impediment, the film's ludicrousness and illogicality is celebrated, and hilarious, interactive traditions have sprung from them.

Its flawed plotline is exemplified in a scene where Lisa's mother alludes to having cancer in a throwaway line halfway through the film, and it is never touched upon again. At this point, it is custom to yell "CANCER!" at the screen –the louder, the better. The film's casual misogyny is also mocked, Lisa's actions often triggering a bellowing "'CAUSE YOU'RE A WOMAN!" from the audience, and Mark's mere appearance inciting a "SESTOSTERONE!" (a wordplay on the actors' surname, Sestero). Characters appear and disappear without ever being introduced, most bizarrely, two materialize onscreen at Tommy's apartment having intercourse, for no reason whatsoever. Thus, it is appropriate to yell "WHO THE F**K ARE YOU?" when that moment occurs. It is heavily encouraged to holler that also when the actor playing Peter the psychologist is replaced by another actor who looks nothing like him midway through the film, again, with not even an attempt to explain why.

These atrocities are not only extended to the script and actors, but to the filmmaking as well, as it is not uncommon for shots to go in and out of focus continuously. When it does unfocus, people like to shout "FOCUS!", however, if it does focus upon one of the abhorrent, awkward sex scenes, it is necessary to cry out in disgust, "Oh God. UNFOCUS!". This expression of revulsion is not limited to yelling though, and in a particularly long, unwarranted copulation scene, it is common to feign walking out in protest.

As a novice of The Room, at times, all these traditions (there are plenty more not mentioned here) are hard to keep track of and can often be overwhelming. You're so busy trying to yell the right things at the right times, often just piping in on the last word or syllable, that the experience can go right over your head. You're so lost in the constant ruckus and having to duck your head to avoid flying spoons, that it makes it near impossible to grasp more than a quarter of what is actually going on onscreen–though lets be honest, this isn't a bad thing considering the quality of the film. Thus, it is highly recommended to go see the film more than once, as there is arguably more to be gained the second time around, when you can more actively participate in the merriment. Plus, there is some unspeakable bond formed between The Room regulars, nuggets of classic dialogue such as, "you're tearing me apart Lisa!" or "oh, hi", often heard exchanged and lost on those ignorant to the film.

If nothing else, The Room challenges the norm of movie-audience relationships at the cinema, unlike any other movie. And you do not go to see 'The Room' for the film, you go for the unique cultural experience.
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Why? It won't be your average day at the cinema
When: Dates & times vary
Where: In cinemas
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