If you’re a connoisseur of auteur cinema, you surely know of The Room, a masterpiece of filmmaking, and one of this generation’s great exercises in filmmaking. The most compelling argument I could give for why it’s legendary would be to have you watch it yourself.
The Room’s plot is a fairly basic one. Johnny, the protagonist, is betrayed by his fiance (Lisa) when she cheats on him with his best friend, Mark. This culminates in Johnny’s death after he can no longer handle the emotional pressure.
I submit to the readers of this post that the way all heterosexuality is portrayed in The Room is decidedly negative and the way some male characters act indicate a level of romantic and sexual love between them that is not present with the heterosexual relationships. My intention is to prove this with regard to Johnny and Denny. Although I can’t go into more detail with the official post due to the word count, rest assured that there is absolutely more ground to cover (perhaps in a later post?).
We are introduced to the relationship between Johnny and Lisa through his purchase of a red dress for her. She is excited by his purchase and proceeds to offer him sex. However, Denny enters the scene, and after complementing Lisa, proceeds to talk with Johnny. Johnny and Lisa want privacy to have sex, but Denny– curious– follows them upstairs. All three engage in a pillow fight, going primarily after Lisa. He is then asked to leave by Lisa, and he does so at Johnny’s urging. Firstly, we learn that Lisa’s primary interest in Johnny is due to him buying things for her. Secondly, even though Denny is a fully grown college student, he is treated as though he is only just learning about sex– something that every college student is already aware of. Denny also seems to want Johnny’s attention, and why he does this is never fully addressed by the movie. Finally, it is Lisa and not Johnny that asks Denny to leave, and he only complies after Johnny tells him to leave. From this, we can infer that Denny wants intimacy with either Lisa or Johnny, but to whom does he want to become intimate with? The movie, seeming to back off from this, claims that he finds Lisa attractive. However, Denny’s actions throughout the film indicate that he is more interested in Johnny than Lisa. Furthermore, in the supposed sex scene, Johnny doesn’t have sex with Lisa, engaging instead in foreplay. This indicates to me a lack of sexual interest in Lisa on Johnny’s part.
Later on, Denny is with four sweaty guys, including Johnny, who are half-naked in the gym. They play football, and Denny is injured. Johnny pulls him up, puts an arm around Denny, his hand over Denny’s right nipple. Denny’s breathing becomes ragged. Johnny then insists on driving Denny home, and it is implied they spend some time alone together. Despite the obvious homoerotic imagery of naked men competing in sports together (Ancient Greek Olympics), I am more interested in Denny’s performance in the game. Traditional views of masculinity would dictate that men be naturally good at sports, but Denny does not fit that mold. Indeed, being poor at sports is more associated with traditional femininity. Johnny’s immediate concern for Denny, and his oddly sexual embrace, indicate a level of attachment that goes beyond mere friends. As if the above were not evidence enough, he then drives Denny home and spends some time there, alone, with him. Are we expected to believe that after the foreplay, there was no sex while they were alone at a house together?
After Johnny kills himself, Denny mourns the most of everyone over his dead body, wanting to “touch him one last time” and begging him to “wake up.” He pays no mind to Lisa, his supposed love interest, clutching at Johnny’s clothing and nuzzling his chest. Even after the scene has largely shifted from him, he is shown in the background of the shot, continuing to desperately clutch at Johnny’s dead body. Are these the actions of a friend, or a lover? Other characters also say that Denny “loved” Johnny and that Denny “was destroyed” by his death.
All this leads me to conclude that Johnny and Denny were maintaining a sexual relationship behind Lisa’s back. For all his vaunted innocence, Johnny was just as guilty as Lisa.
What do you guys think?