Starring: James Franco, Ed Harris, Amber Heard and Cynthia Nixon
Directed by: Pamela Romanowsky
Run Time: 1h 45min
Genre: Drama, Romance, Thriller
2 1/2 out of 5 Frames
By: Shari K. Green
“The Adderall Diaries” is based on the captivating true story of an author whose life becomes troubled when penning a book about a murder begins to bring up his own violent past.
James Franco plays Stephen Elliot, a novelist plagued with writer’s block who finds the story of Hans Reiser (Slater) to be intriguing and meets Lana (Heard) who is just as interested in the Reiser case, as well. She is very much his equal yet naïve enough to shape.
Elliot is being pushed by his editor Jen (Nixon) to come up with twenty pages to secure a deal with Penguin, but when he finally starts writing it doesn’t freely flow unless he is writing about a subject that comes from the Adderall-fueled bender’s he’s been going on.
Digging more and more heavily into the case, he learns that the man Reiser is being charged with murdering his wife and Elliot interviews him, goes to his trial and starts writing about the case. It’s at this time that his most recently published book, a true story about his abusive father and his disturbing childhood, is in trouble because of lies he has told. When he’s giving a reading on his book, his very much ALIVE father, Neil (Harris), for whom he said was dead, shows up at a book reading and announces to everyone that they had been fooled by a junkie who was nothing but a spoiled addict.
It’s intriguing how the writer, director Pamela Romanowsky moves us with flashbacks into Elliot’s past and as we get to know him more and more, we realize maybe the accusation brought on by his father was true. Maybe we’re not all ‘Vicitms of our father’s’, as he has written but maybe we’re victims of our own minds and our flawed memories as we see in Stephen Elliot. Stephen has a very different vision of and version of what his life had been. Neil is freed as he tells him what life was like to try and raise him. He wasn’t in a group home and beaten as Stephen recalls and writes in his book… he was difficult to control and he ran away.
Sadly, most relationships suffer due to the Adderall Elliot can’t stop consuming. Love is also consumed when Lana is frightened off. Normally going to prostitutes, for it takes pain for him to feel pleasure, he asks too much of Lana and she runs she’s asked not just to choke him but when he, shortly into their relationship, uses the “L” word.
As it is, the relationship feels very unnatural and forced so it makes sense that it doesn’t work… for the character or the audience. The movie is most interesting when Franco, who plays against type, is up against Ed Harris. The narrative is strong, the film is smart and it’s Ed Harris who forces Franco to push himself and show he can handle drama, as well as he, can handle a joke.
The Adderal Diaries is now playing in select cities. Check showtimes for local listings.