- 528658 - "The Adderall Diaries" - Ed Harris and James Franco
Pamela Romanowskys solo directorial debut after collaborating with James Franco and a stable of student filmmakers to make The Color of Time, The Adderall Diaries (based off Stephen Elliotts memoir) details the trial of Linux guru Hans Reiser (Christian Slater) for the murder of his wife.
- 528668 - "The Adderall Diaries" - Christian Slater and James Franco BY Anna Kooris
Franco, playing Elliott living in the tumultuous afterglow of his first books success, weaves a tale of abuse and loss without searching for pity. His is a matter-of-factness that disguises pain with emotional immaturity. His mother has died of cancer and his father beat him until he became a ward of the state, bouncing from group homes to homelessness. A lilting indie-synth score gives the opening montages cancer, adultery and abuse a candy coating culminating in the dramatic undercut reveal when his father (Ed Harris), supposedly dead, per Elliotts creatively written book, crashes his publishers gala.
Aside from this presumably career-shattering revelation (it doesnt really affect his career), the film doesnt shy away from its alleged source, showing him writing nothing more exciting than words appearing on a blank screen intercut with the bad decisions of his youth.
The film huffs and puffs its way to the finish line like a series of montages without drama or conflict. The trouble with watching someone fail to write is that we are sentenced to their procrastination through no fault of our own. Their drug abuse can be seen as either the last desperate move of a victim or the lazy flailings of someone in over their head. The difference is all in the direction. In The Adderall Diaries, we get the latter. Franco can only do what hes told. He does the drugs, writes the silly index card notes with his publishers name on them (Penguin!!!!), and relives his flashbacked teenage delinquencies. Without artistry, like match-cuts from particular moments of adolescent suffering and its repercussions, we get disconnected images that fail to impact.
- 528660 - "The Adderall Diaries" - Jim Parrack and James Franco
Aside from this, we get a meet-cute with an invented New York Times reporter (Amber Heard) at Reisers trial, which Elliott has decided to chronicle, but it isnt quite satisfying. Their relationship alternates between voyeurism into her life (What did your stepdad do to you?), projecting his own dads are bad thesis on trauma into the world and I think youre perfect; I wouldnt want you any other way.
Theyre both motorcycle-riding badasses, which is intended to represent a bad-boy persona that the formerly homeless runaway author simply doesnt embody so stereotypically.
The author has written a response to the film, saying that its fidelity to both his life and his published work is tenuous. Did a New York Times reporter in her mid-20s really exist and date Elliott? This doesnt matter so much for perfect word-to-screen adaptation but for artistic and thematic believability.
In making a story about abuse, sadness and dependence, Romanowsky ironically focused on the mixed truths and realities that infect our different perspectives. Memories are inconsistent but not so inconsistent that they forget about the real person behind the story. Desperation should be felt in these movies not the way we might feel desperate, like when losing a love, but how the character might feel desperate, like being utterly alone, trapped with his past.https://youtu.be/_qVMu-qnuNg
Print headline: Aimless stimulant, Pamela Romanowskys The Adderall Diaries follows the tumultuous experiences of author Stephen Elliott.