The Adderall Diaries

2016-04-15 10:56

What it's about:

As a writer stymied by past success, writers block, substance abuse, relationship problems and a serious set of father issues, Elliott's cracked-out chronicle of a bizarre murder trial amounts to less than the sum of its parts. Not long into the 2007 trial of programmer Hans Reiser, accused of murdering his wife, the defendant's friend Sean Sturgeon obliquely confessed to several murders (though not the murder of Reiser's wife). Elliott, caught up in the film-ready twist and his tenuous connection to Sturgeon (they share a BDSM social circle), makes a gonzo record of the proceedings. The result is a scattered, self-indulgent romp through the mind of a depressive narcissist obsessed with his insecurities and childhood traumas.

What we thought:

Disjointed from the get go, The Adderall Diaries is a bizarre compost of varying truths, as one author tries to come to terms the reality he has constructed within himself and around other people, yet somehow the film just ends up with bits and pieces left lying around, tripping up the cast and the plot.

Based on one of his best-selling memoirs of the same name, the film follows author Stephen Elliot (James Franco) as he covers the gripping murder trial of a software developer (Christian Slater). As he focuses on the trial, he delves within his own memories of his father (Ed Harris) and how his past is affecting his present.

The Adderall Diaries is one of the films that just annoy you with its pretentiousness, trying to climb that philosophical high horse and force the audience to eat up this inner truth crap. Throw some drug abuse in the fray and you got a clumsy attempt to capture the desolation of the human psyche, like Requiem of a Dream (now that’s real misery). What we really get is a selfish man-child who spouts faux deep-thinking pearls of wisdom that you find on some emo kid’s Facebook feed.

One can however forgive newcomer director Pamela Romanowsky for this floundering blunder. It wasn’t too big that high expectations were placed on her, and she could test the waters. Her inexperience showed throughout the film, which had so many plots going that it ended up with no plot, but hopefully she can learn from these mistakes.

The real culprit is Franco, who is such an odd actor for me – either he comes out brilliant or he comes out in a flaming ball of mediocrity. His company produced the film and he’s the one who turned Romanowsky onto being the director, but I feel like he threw her in the deep end. But on the other hand, he gave a new director a chance at her own show and kept it low-key enough that it wouldn’t blow up too much in his face.

Amber Heard however gave a very strong performance, and felt like the only real character on-screen. She plays the girlfriend of the fraught writer, and unlike her boyfriend tries to move on from the past like a mature adult. She connects with the audience on a deeper emotional level and although she seems broken at first, she comes out stronger at the end.

Unfortunately The Adderall Diaries does not offer enough authenticity for anyone to really relate to any of the other characters, let alone the main one.

Supposedly based on truth, even the real Stephen Elliot was unhappy with the film’s treatment of him, and when an author doesn’t like an on-screen adaptation of his work it should trigger some red flags. One wonders if it wasn’t the character’s ego that got in the way, but rather Franco’s ego, which is a common occurrence in many of his flukes. Give this movie a hard miss at the cinemas.

Read more on:    james franco  |  amber heard  |  movies

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