Matthew Watches The Room 16: Lisa Is Not Subtle, Is Also Tearing Johnny Apart

Did you forget this movie takes place in San Francisco? If so, Tommy Wiseau included yet another shot that will help you remember!

In case you forgot
Apparently.

Lisa and Michelle are lounging about in the middle of the day drinking wine, because this is what women typically do during the day.

Don't forget Lisa apparently has a job in the computer industry.
During one of Lisa’s many days off from her job in the computer business.

Michelle asks Lisa how Johnny is, because this scene is determined to fail the Bechdel Test as fast as it possibly can. Lisa says that Johnny didn’t get his promotion, that he got drunk last night, and that he hit her. She also says so as dryly as that sentence is written, because I guess Lisa’s just bored of spreading the lie about Johnny’s physical abuse already? Michelle responds with – amazingly – actual human emotion, albeit that emotion is exasperated shock and confusion, which contrasts sharply with Juliette Danielle’s “wait what room am I in” portrayal of Lisa.

Michelle: HE HIT YOU?
Lisa: (Monotone) He didn’t know what he was doing.
Michelle: ARE YOU OKAY?
Lisa: (Monotone) Well, I don’t want to marry him anymore.
Michelle: WHAAAT?

Which is the first time a character in this movie has made the same expression the majority of the audience is making.
Which is the first time a character in this movie has made the same expression the majority of the audience has been making.

Speaking of not knowing what you’re doing, Lisa has no idea whether she’s drinking her wine or putting it down in this superbly-edited scene.

Now, don’t worry! Lest you thought that having one of the characters act like a normal human person in one of their scenes was one person entirely too many, this ends very quickly when Lisa talks about what really matters: banging Mark.

Lisa: Johnny’s… okay… (hint of a human emotion a smile) but I found somebody else.

Michelle asserts that this isn’t right, but once Lisa offers a sufficient explanation (“I’m doing… what I want to do.”), Michelle immediately goes from “how a human would react” to “gossip party time”:

Michelle: (smiling, because why the fuck not) Well, who is he?
Lisa: (smiling, although this we’re at least used to by now) His best friend.

Okay, so, uh, not only are we not feeling bad about this detail anymore, like in the beginning of the movie, but suddenly we’re gloating about it?

Michelle: (surprised laugh, genuine smile) I can’t believe you’re telling me this! It’s Mark, isn’t it?

Holy shit, Michelle, how did you crack Lisa’s code?

Suddenly, Michelle remembers this is actually really bad news. She tells Lisa that she’s just thinking of herself and she has to “be honest” with Johnny, which Lisa immediately insists she can’t do, because it would devastate him, the man who loves her that she is currently cheating on with his best friend. When Michelle presses the issue, Lisa makes a perfectly reasonable request.

Lisa: No guilt trips!

Yes, please, whatever you do, don’t make me feel bad about cheating on my fiance. Have some decency.

Haven't I suffered enough?
Haven’t I suffered enough?

Michelle: You don’t feel guilty about this at all?
Lisa: No. I’m happy.
Michelle: (exasperated sigh)

Tommy Wiseau stops teasing us with flashes of actually understanding how baffling his movie is to just show up and pick up the pace himself. And also a newspaper.

Hey. Without this awkward transitional scene in the middle of a scene, we would have had NO IDEA where Johnny's newspaper came from!
Hey, without this awkward, lengthy transitional scene in the middle of a scene, we would have had NO IDEA where Johnny’s newspaper came from!
Oh goddammit.
Oh goddammit.

Ready for things to not make sense again?

Michelle: Don’t worry.
(Door audibly opens in the same room)
Michelle: Your secret is safe with me.
(Camera cuts to Johnny, walking towards them, in the same room that they are where they are openly talking about “secrets”)
Michelle and Lisa: (drink wine)

Johnny walks literally within arm’s reach of the couch before they notice he is there.

Johnny: Hello, Michelle. I heard you. What secret?

“Because, you know, you were talking about it and I was standing right over there, so, uh… Yeah. Hi?”

Lisa tries to quickly change the topic with the not at all more-suspicious, “It’s between us women”. Johnny still goes for it, though, and immediately asks if she got a new dress. Michelle, having nothing else to do in this scene now that there is a male character in it, gets up to leave.

More importantly, spoons.

the room 16-7
Spooooooons.

Just before she leaves, Michelle continues to act not even remotely suspiciously.

Michelle: Lisa. Remember what I told you.

Johnny understandably asks what she means by that not-at-all subtle statement. Lisa snaps that, “It’s girl talk. I just told you that.” Sad music plays.

Johnny: I never hit you.

Well, it’s about time Johnny brings up the elephant in the room of how Lisa kind of doesn’t have any logical character motivation to do this, since they both know she’s lying.

Johnny: You shouldn’t have any secrets from me. I’m your future husband.
Lisa: You sure about that? Maybe I’ll change (dramatic pause) my mind.
Johnny: (smiles and shakes head) Don’t talk like that.

This might be more awkward to sit through than real domestic arguments.

Johnny: What do you mean?
Lisa: What do you think? Women change their minds all the time!
Johnny: (throws his hands over his head in laughter)

Women!
Women!

Lisa: Look, I don’t want to talk about it. I’m going to go upstairs, wash up, and go to bed.

Which is apparently the line it takes for Johnny to snap.

Johnny: HOW DARE YOU TALK TO ME LIKE THAT? (stands up and pushes Lisa onto the couch)

So, seriously, out of all the weirdly caustic things Lisa says to Johnny in this scene, “I’m going to bed” is the one that sends him into a fit of rage. See for yourself.

Also, yes, this is that scene.

That scene.

tearing me apart

That scene.

Johnny: (sobbing) Why, Lisa? Why, Lisa? Please talk to me! Please! You’re part of my life! You are everything! I could not go on without you, Lisa!
Lisa: (stage whisper) You’re scaring me.
Johnny: You are lying! I narely (probably supposed to be “didn’t”, but, uh, words are hard) hit you! YOU ARE TEARING ME APART, LISA!

Lisa asks a surprisingly good question.

Lisa: WHY ARE YOU SO HYSTERICAL?

Johnny says… this:

Johnny: Do you understand life? DO YOU?

That was relevant.
That was relevant.

The scene actually progresses perfectly from there, with Lisa staring at him completely expressionlessly, then getting up and slowly, silently walking away. Note that “perfectly” doesn’t necessarily have to happen on purpose.

Lisa stops on the staircase, and turns to Johnny.

Lisa: (Reassuringly, actually) Don’t worry about it. Everything will be alright.
Johnny: (utterly exasperated, in contrast) YOU DRIVE ME CRAZY.

Then Tommy Wiseau wraps up the scene with this very natural line of dialogue.

Johnny: Don’t worry about it. I still love you.

Then what the hell did we have to watch that for?

– – –

Hey! So, ordinarily I don’t go into any background, behind-the-scenes information about The Room, because I’m not trying to explain The Room, but rather close-read The Room, like we do with all the books on this blog. But this scene stands out. Because, you know…

tearing me apart

Now, you may have watched that rather infamous scene and immediately thought of a this famous scene:

As was confirmed in Greg Sestero (Mark)’s 2013 book, the almost tell-all The Disaster Artist, yes, Tommy Wiseau was 100% copying this scene. As it turns out, Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero bonded over their shared love of James Dean, and Tommy would actually do that scene in their acting classes, terribly misreading the character by screaming and dramatically sobbing the famous line. Somehow the most surprising part of that sentence is “acting classes”.

Needless to say, Tommy Wiseau couldn’t quite figure out why such a scene worked, which why we have this, The Room‘s best-known moment, in all its incompetent glory.

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0 comments

  1. Dana Reply

    Hmm, I think he’s trying to say “never” in that one line. I’ve actually managed to introduce this movie to one of my friends, who is now a little obsessed with it, and I have more than once sent her the “Do you understand life?” clip when the situation called for it (which is surprisingly often).

    And yay, Marlon Brando … Why must you be so attractive while playing a wife-beating rapist?

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    • matthewjulius Reply

      Ah, man, that would make a lot of sense. He still definitely says “narely”, which unfortunately makes it sound like he said “I barely hit you!”, which is like “oh, well, then that’s better?” I didn’t review this one too carefully. I think “never” sounds pretty close.
      “Do you understand life?” is my favorite line from the movie, but usually no one hears it because everyone is still laughing at “YOU ARE TEARING ME APART, LISA!” It’s tragic, really.

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  2. E.H.Taylor Reply

    Wow… I just don’t know what to say about the acting in this bit… I mean, talk about flat.

    I have yet to see ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, but I’ve heard it’s rather striking. It’s on my ‘to be watched’ list.

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