Director: Justin MacGregor
Starring: Greg Sestero, Tommy Wiseau, Kristen StephensonPino, Rick Edwards, R.J. Cantu, Patrick Greene, George Killingsworth
When Best F(r)iends (at that point sans the ‘Volume’ addition to the title) previewed at the Prince Charles Cinema in London back in September 2017, the audience of Room fanatics went absolutely wild as the closing moments revealed that the story would be told in two volumes.
For this audience, more from Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero is only ever a good thing, and now we arrive at the much anticipated Volume Two to see if it lived up to the high expectations of this unique fan-base.
The short answer is that it absolutely lives up to the expectations, but only this, it manages to surpass them and succeeds in being a better, more well-rounded film than the first volume.
The most common question I was asked after seeing the first Best F(r)iends was “is it actually good though?”, to which I would answer as emphatically as I could that it was, and surprisingly so. For those whose only exposure to Tommy and Greg prior to this had been The Room, it may have come as a surprise that Best F(r)iends was not just a competently made film, but a well made film. The cinematography was stunning in places, and the minimalist score from Imagine Dragons’ Daniel Platzman was the perfect accompaniment to the bizarre, surrealist story that took its inspiration from David Lynch movies, and of course elements of the real-life friendship between Sestero and Wiseau.
Volume Two is a much sparser affair than the first, Sestero himself describing it as being inspired by hit TV show Breaking Bad. We rejoin Jon (Sestero) on the run in the desert with his girlfriend Traci (StephensonPino), with an ATM machine that they’re attempting to break into. Mortician Harvey (Wiseau) is believed to be dead, but it isn’t long until he begins to make his presence known. Aided in their mission, Jon and Traci are joined by her “Uncle” Rick (Edwards), a foul-mouthed failed footballer, to try and crack it open and discover its spoils.
There is a much tighter script and setting this time around and the story ultimately benefits from this. If the first part was Wiseau’s film, then this second part is undeniably Sestero’s film, and this film delves much further into the past of his character as well. Wiseau is much more sparingly used in this film, but yet he punctuates it perfectly with well-timed weirdness, wisecracks, and a surprising amount of wisdom; albeit in Tommy’s own unique way of course! Stealing the show however is Rick Edwards as Rick Stanton. Taking his cues from the most grizzled of Clint Eastwood performances, he has the most outrageous lines and easily delivers some of the film’s biggest laughs.
The script, penned by Sestero, is purposeful and driven; where the first film was deliberately sprawling, Volume Two is focused and tightly wound. There’s some genuine moments of tension, thrill and surprise, and the combination of this with the sharp injections of dark comedy makes for the perfect pairing.
Again, perhaps to people’s surprise, this is actually a very well made film, something which manages to deviate far enough away from The Room to stand on its own merit, yet acknowledges that it is the dynamite pairing of Wiseau and Sestero which has seen the notorious aforementioned movie keep its longevity for so many years, and ensures that 15 years later, a film starring them will still have an adoring audience.
It’s a film made by people who clearly love the movies, love the craft of movie making and love making something which is guaranteed to delight its audience; It’s packed with nods, references and homages to cinema past and present that Cinephiles will absolutely love.
The story of Greg and Tommy is after all one of the most surprising and heartwarming of Hollywood underdog stories and it is fitting that this film “ends” on a genuinely heartfelt moment that acknowledges their real-life friendship. The unlikeliest of friendships but one which is genuine and endearing.
The quotation marks around “ends” in the previous statement were intentional, and there is a wonderful “PS” at the very end. Perhaps this is just a ruse, perhaps there’ll be a third part to the epic trilogy, we shall have to wait and see! For now both Volumes have proven beyond doubt that there is life outside The Room for both Sestero and Wiseau, and as long as they’re continuing to make movies together, all is right with the world!
Check out my interview with Greg Sestero here as well. Interview Volume Two coming soon? Maybe…