The Room (2003) might have defined the worst films among contemporary flicks, but Best F(r)iends Vol:1 (2017) is a table-turner for the disaster artists Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau.
I’ve been thinking a lot before I sat down to write this review. Most of the articles concerning Best F(r)iends Vol:1 (2017) begin by elaborating on why seeing Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero star in anything watchable is a miracle we couldn’t even dream of.
I’ll skip that part. I believe that each and every film, although certainly can be contextually enriched by other works of the people involved in its production, may (or even should) constitute a piece of its own pie. And Best F(r)iends Vol:1 (2017) surprises with its taste, in spite of the names attached to it.
What is Best F(r)iends Vol: 1 (2017) about?
In Best F(r)iends Vol:1 (2017), Greg Sestero plays Jon, a guy who one day wakes up in a blood-covered shirt in LA. After a few days of mooching around, Jon comes by a mortuary run by Harvey (Tommy Wiseau). The latter employs Jon and soon they develop a friendship, which becomes an unbreakable shackle for both gentlemen involved.
In order to fully embrace the subliminal message that’s conveyed underneath the surface of Best F(r)iends Vol:1 (2017), it is good to have a general understanding of The Disaster Artist (2017) – preferably book, but the film starring James Franco will do too. You see, Best F(r)iends Vol:1 (2017) uses Jon and Harvey, mortuary as a setting, and plenty of other details, but all of these can’t alter the fact that it’s the exact same chain of events that led to Sestero and Wiseau teaming up and growing apart eventually. It’s their ode to the one story that keeps them together.
Quite unexpectedly, Wiseau nails the role of a quirky, creepy mortician, making up for a genuinely interesting role. He puts his weirdness in motion, but that favors Harvey in every manner possible – in one scene, Wis… Harvey explains that he likes to create masks of faces of people brought to the morgue. Frankly, it’s not even the most disturbing scene in the first chapter of Best F(r)iends Vol:1 (2017).
While Tommy Wiseau craves spotlight, it’s Greg Sestero that deserves more applause
Given their shared past and how things played out in the end, Best F(r)iends Vol:1 (2017) must have been an incredibly difficult film to pull off. It’s written all over it. Sestero conceived the book in which he explained how Tommy’s loneliness cast a shadow on him, causing his life energy to be drained. And in Best F(r)iends Vol:1 (2017) Sestero draws a line, moves forward and sees things from a perspective. Their mutual story was already a material for a film, but by altering a few facts, it becomes a compelling story of people getting close only to become enemies.
Greg Sestero’s role is more withdrawn, closer to the actor’s real personality. Jon’s both grateful and afraid, lurked into a spider’s web, but unsure whether the spider wants to eat him or keep as a pet. Gradually, things escalate, and a lot of nonsense takes place on the way too. That, however, paints the film in even more vivid colors. Things can pretty weird, but they always remain within the general quirkiness of the entire undertaking.
A step up from The Room (2003) is major
In terms of the technical side, both Wiseau and Sestero left the times of The Room (2003) behind (there you go, I finally made a reference to their opus magnum).
Best F(r)iends Vol:1 (2017) has the vibe of an ambitious indie film – there are quite nice scenery shots of LA, there is mood-setting music that ranges from eerie electronics to indie rock. It’s clearly the influence of the director Justin MacGregor on both stars, but they fit in the whole pattern – instead of pushing their own, weird James-Dean-fueled agenda. And while it’s still far from independent filmmakers who have their own sharp and conscientious style, Wiseau and Sestero made a huge leap onward.
I can’t really say whether it’s the presence of a man from the outside – a young filmmaker Justin MacGregor – who took over the director’s seat, or the fact that Best F(r)iends Vol:1 (2017) reinvents the story of its two main stars, but I felt warmth in my heart during the entire screening. In the end, Wiseau and Sestero became two symbols of dreams coming true in the most brutal world you can imagine. They matured, they found their niche and – I’m still awestruck when writing this – I’m honestly looking forward to catching up with the second volume of Best F(r)iends Vol:1 (2017).
Best F(r)iends: Vol: 1 (2017) – Culturally Hated or Loved?
While MacGregor’s film carries the mark of Tommy’s wild nature, it’s the first time when anything Wiseau worked on is watchable, and even enjoyable – not necessarily in a bad-movie way.
Best F(r)iends: Vol: 1 (2017)
Hate Grade: 3.5/10
Director: Justin MacGregor
Writers: Greg Sestero
Starring: Tommy Wiseau, Greg Sestero
Music: Daniel Platzman
Cinematography: Justin McGregor, Farhan Umedaly
If you liked Best F(r)iends Vol: 1 (2017), you might want to watch the following movies:
- Best F(r)iends Vol: 2 (2018) – a direct follow-up to the story presented in Vol: 1, which is, unfortunately, a serious downgrade to Tommy’s usual awkwardness
- Thursday (1998) – A similar vibe of lowlife LA newcomers makes this movie bear similarities to MacGregor’s film
- Good Time (2017) & Uncut Gems (2019) – Safdie Brothers nail the stories about small-time crooks, a topic that Best F(r)iends Vol: 1 (2017) tries to target too
- The Room (2003) – obviously, because its the creme de la creme when ti comes to Wiseau cinematic portfolio