Plumb Lines

March 23, 2009

Loose String Theory

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthew Schmitz @ 7:57 pm

Thanks to a recommendation from Peter Suderman, I recently watched The Room, a vanity project written, directed, produced and starred-in by the mysterious Tommy Wiseau. The film may be the worst movie I have ever seen, but we would be better off if all Hollywood films were a little more like it.

To see what I mean, take the following scene, which I have watched dozens of times. Its success through failure comes from equal parts bad acting, bad writing, and terrible direction:

The “dialogue” here is nothing more than a series of non-sequiturs. The appearance of the dog is sudden and unexplained. There are whole series of verbal and visual non-sequiturs that, with a bigger budget and more care, could have seemed plausible. We get more of these moments throughout the film. At one point a character launches into an extended complaint about the disputed possession of a home only, as if suddenly reminded, to conclude by mentioning that she has terminal breast cancer.

A friend of mine proposed that these moments, the unexplained exchanges and the acting that’s so bad it seems invested with the dark significance of hidden secrets, show that more serious productions would be more suggestive and more interesting if they had more loose strings. I tend to agree that mainstream films would be richer if they only had more of the unexplained glances, misdirected dialogue and dropped storylines that make The Room so engrossing.

-Matthew Schmitz



  1. I hear this is the film where they play American football in tuxedos. I’d like to declare publicly that I had not heard about this film prior to my plans.

    The dialogue is interesting if only for the fact that the director is either exploiting or exposing through his own ineptitude the stilted effect line dubbing creates. If the film had less money the lines would be delivered live by the actors and they likely wouldn’t have auxiliary microphones separate from the camera. That is the hallmark of bad production seen on YouTube, amongst other sites. The director took the time, though, to go in and dub his lines so the sound quality reflected the silent atmosphere of a studio. So the scene that is supposed to be in a busy, vibrant flower shop is dead.

    Again, that’s either intentional or bad film making. Either way, it illustrates how dubbed lines often fall flat and don’t mix with the visual. ‘The Wire’ has frequent instances of bad dubbing, and ‘The Dark Knight’ was an auditory abomination when it came to actors’ lines. It’s possible that none of the Joker’s lines were Heath Ledger’s voice, and almost all of the lines spoken by Batman are overdubbed. The role of the actor is now bifurcated into what they do on screen and what they deliver in the audio trailer now.

    -Michael E. van Landingham

    Comment by Michael E. van Landingham — March 24, 2009 @ 8:27 am

  2. In defense of Tommy’ genius-
    The sympathetic music ushering us into the shop is key. It sets the tone: here we have the soft tragedy of a beautiful flute statement, the quiet movement of the understated piano, the foreboding angst of the violins… You might protest- we’re in a flower shop, surrounded by Johnny’s fan club. (we could even venture- it seems that no one is betraying him) Where is the tragedy?
    Tommy Wiseau is too good to be true- he plants foreshadowing into his incidental music. Pull out your “Context Clues, Grade 5” workbook from your desk and turn to chapter 6, “Foreshadowing.” How elementary! How genius!

    Comment by Maria Pluta — March 24, 2009 @ 2:51 pm

  3. […] week I wrote about how Tommy Wiseau’s bizarrely bad film, The Room, is as an example of what I call […]

    Pingback by Bertolt Brecht, Meet Tommy Wiseau « Plumb Lines — March 31, 2009 @ 3:20 pm

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