The Adderall Diaries is a gritty adult drama, based on the “true-crime memoir” of author Stephen Elliot (James Franco). Stephen is haunted by twisted flashbacks of his youth, entwined into his obsessive fascination with the true crime of the Hans Reiser murder case.
While Franco (who optioned Elliot’s 2010 memoir and enlisted the help of his film school buddy Pamela Romanowsky to adapt it for the big screen) plays the lead, the movie has a cast full of fellow A Lister’s.
Veteran actor Ed Harris play’s Stephen’s father Neil, who he blames for many of the demons that chase him into adulthood. His published autobiography describes his father’s abuse and neglect, which leads to his demise and consequent drug addiction. Riding on the wave of it’s success and thanks to the hard work of his editor Jen.(Cynthia Nixon of Sex in the City fame) he receives two further book deals and a teaching gig . However battling both writer’s block and a growing Adderall dependency he becomes an “expert in the fields of masturbation, cheap vodka and bad decisions” instead of meeting deadlines. When Neil (long since estranged from his son & said to be dead in Stephen’s memoir) unexpectedly turns up at a bookstore reading, Stephen's career (& credibility) really take a hit.
For those of us old enough to remember, you will recognise 80’s heart throb Christian Slater in the role of Hans Reiser. Accused of murdering his missing wife, his high profile case captures the attention of Stephen, who begins to draw parallels with his own troubled past.
Amber Heard is Lana, a New York Times reporter who meets Stephen while covering the Reiser case. They embark on an intense and emotionally draining relationship, heavily burdened by the baggage they have both acquired, through their traumatic childhoods. They share a few kinky love scenes that would leave even the most die hard Fifty Shades of Grey fan blushing.
Jim Paarack (of True Blood fame) is Roger. As Stephen’s adolescent wingman, he has moved on from his rebellious teenage years, and arrived at adulthood as a happy family man Unfortunately not so, for his best friend. (There is even a blink & you'll miss it appearance from Wilmer Valderrama of That 70's Show.)
As Stephen pasts catches up with him, he is forced to confront the deepest of his insecurities and face the cold hard truth on whether he is in fact a victim or a villain. This is a movie that will leave you questioning the reliability of your own memory. Subconsciously editing our past experiences, oblivious to the impact this may have on our future relationships. How one shared memory can be felt with such clashing emotions from another person’s perspective, ultimately forms the root of the wedge between Stephen and his father Neil.
While it is no secret that the author of the Adderall Diaries (real life Stephen Elliot) was not a fan of the movie adaptation, do not let this deter you. The risky way in which the film blurs between the past and present in a swirling circle of emotions, depicts the fragile state of mind of it’s lead character. If alone for the sheer gose bumps from the "clothes peg" scene, I would recommend you give this movie a watch. In a world full of films that play it safe, occasionally we all need to break out & view something that attempts to colour outside the lines
3.5 out of 5 stars