The Adderall Diaries - Review
Review - Matt Mungle
*Opens on Friday, April 15 in DFW at Forney Cinema 12 and Starplex Hulen 10 in Fort Worth. THE ADDERALL DIARIES is currently available on DirecTV VOD.*
Synopsis: Based on the bestselling memoir by Stephen Elliott, The Adderall Diaries is the gripping and complex story of how an author’s fascination with a high-profile murder case leads him to come to terms with his troubled past while embarking on a potentially life-changing romance in the present.
Review: James Franco plays journalist, writer, filmmaker Stephen Elliott in this dark, brutally emotional drama based on Elliott's 2009 memoir. Elliott is a troubled man trying to escape an even more troubled childhood. But he can't seem to get past the death of his mother, the absentee father (Ed Harris), and his teenage drug abuse. As time passes he begins to realize that his memories might not be factual. This revelation changes everything he thought was truth.
This could be one of Franco's most powerful role. We see him struggle against a past that is an unraveling thread of unhinged memories. He is in a constant state of brooding and angry disposition. But he is also a man in pain; trying to figure out if he is the victim or the reason for his personal struggles. Franco wears all of these emotions openly and this allows the viewer to experience the tension as well. The scenes with him and Harris are volatile and powerful but also extremely organic and unrehearsed.
The one downfall of the film (other than the horrific poster) is the sporadic script by Pamela Romanowsky. It is possible that the source material was too cerebral to transfer to dialogue and the big screen. The other relationships of Elliott's are not thought out and remain superficial regardless of how deep we are led to believe they were in real life. One main focus is Elliott's fixation with a murder trial. He wants to write about it and is drawn to the father on trial. As if he is trying to find a correlation between that man and his own father. But there is no cohesion and the plot line is muddled, riddled with holes, and honestly pointless.
The supporting cast of Amber Heard and Jim Parrack add some solid performances even if their characters are not well written. Heard plays a love interest that has her own ghosts and past demons. Parrack plays Stephen's best friend Roger who has been by his side since youth. Again these relationships probably ran much deeper than we get to experience here.
THE ADDARALL DIARIES is rated R for language throughout, drug use, sexuality, and some aberrant and disturbing content. It is by all means an adult drama and one that is heavy and an emotional downer. Franco's performance is its saving grace and the only reason to consider it. I give it 2.75 out of 5 rough drafts. Most will find the lack of synergy teamed with minuscule redemptive elements enough reason to avoid it.