The stimulant adderall can be misused to increase focus and increase productivity. Ironically, “The Adderall Diaries” (opening in theaters April 15) is terribly unfocused and flails awkwardly for its meager running time.
In short: Novelist Stephen Elliott (James Franco) find himself drawn to the high-profile Hans Reiser (Christian Slater) murder trial – a case that brings him closer to his own troubled past with father (Ed Harris). Amber Heard, Wilmer Valderrama and Cynthia Nixon also star. (Watch the trailer)
“Adderall Diaries” is shockingly flat – which is especially disappointing since it threads elements of a traumatic childhood, a murder trial, an unreliable narrator, drug abuse and a dusting of sexually-charged masochism. With so many odd, frayed ends shoddily woven together, it should come as no surprise that “Adderall Diaries” is a tangled mess.
Yes, this film is adapted from the Elliott’s true-crime memoir – but the Hans Reiser trial elements are so tangential to Elliot’s story that they feel extraneous. While the trial elements may be critical to the book, anything related to the Reiser trial is just borderline unnecessary to the film.
Another b-plot that goes nowhere: the odd meet-cute between Elliot and a news reporter (Heard) also covering the Reiser trial. Valderrama is essentially a glorified extra in his ‘blink or you’ll miss Wilmer’ role and Nixon is merely a nagging plot tool who serves as little more than a weak attempt at injecting some sense of dramatic urgency to the narrative.
Strip away all the superfluous plot elements and “Adderall Diaries” is essentially a father-son relationship drama — which could have been a pretty sound foundation for a pretty compelling film. To its credit, the film does introduce the compelling angle of subjectivity and selective memory to explore the idea of how memories can be skewed – but that’s where the interesting aspects of “Diaries” ends. This film simply throws too many story elements into the narrative – few of which are paid off in any satisfactory manner. This is a case study of a film where “more is less.”
Final verdict: Any movie that’s barely longer than 90 minutes long – and still somehow feels too cluttered and unfocused – has fundamental storytelling and editing problems. The superfluous elements hinder more than they help the narrative.
“The Adderall Diaries” opens in select cities April 15. This film is rated R for language throughout, drug use, sexuality, and some aberrant and disturbing content.