From Ben Travers’ SXSW review, posted on 3.13.17: “A lot of the responsibility to convince viewers of the film’s authenticity falls to Franco. As Tommy Wiseau, he is the strange, unknowable presence at the center of both The Disaster Artist (A24, 12.1) and The Room, and audiences need to believe this is a real person rather than a caricature.
“[Franco makes this freak] both captivating and alienating at once. No one understands him, not even Greg, and there’s no forced exposition or even implied background to help you believe such a person could really exist. (To be fair, Wiseau’s background is a mystery to this day, but Franco doesn’t even try to solve it.)
“And here is where the director makes a make-or-break choice for the movie: Rather than banish all familiar elements from his performance, he recognizes when Tommy can and can’t be relatable. Now, Tommy is never entirely understandable, but he is a real person. Franco is smart enough to recognize that most people came to know Tommy through The Room — and Johnny, his character in the movie, is not Tommy.
“As The Disaster Artist progresses, you notice the separation in his performance: Franco allows himself to play into the jokes when Tommy is off-camera, and he rejects all of his comedic instincts when filming scenes from The Room. That allows Tommy to be truly funny in order to serve the comedy written into The Disaster Artist. Franco can hit a joke as Tommy, even though Tommy can’t land a punchline on camera to save his life. As Seth Rogen’s character says in the movie, ‘It would be weird for Tommy to do something that’s not weird.'”