The Adderall Diaries Blu-ray Review
Ed Harris, James Franco, Christian Slater and Amber Heard sounds like a bizarre acting dream team. All four don’t appear in a singular scene in the screen together once in THE ADDERALL DIARIES, but instead appear in their own shoddy plot lines that stumble into each other. It seems appropriate that a movie called THE ADDERALL DIARIES certainly needs a prescription for Adderall to help focus the confusing and ADHD narrative.
Franco and Harris play a father and son that are constantly at each other’s throats, exchanging hate-filled assaults, and verbally striking each other’s egos and self-esteems. Franco plays Stephen Elliott, the son of Neil Elliott. Their troubled home life is obvious, but unnecessary revealed through wordless and sometimes violent flashbacks that highlight the pair’s true disdain for each other. Stephen grew up without a parental or authoritative figure to help him through life while Neil fell apart after his wife’s, and Stephen’s mom’s, death.
THE ADDERALL DIARIES catches up with Stephen years later as he’s hit a difficult writer’s block. He’s a somewhat successful author. He’s not recognizable, but somehow lives in a swanky and cliché writer’s apartment. He gravitates towards the murder trial of a father, played by Christian Slater. It’s almost like he sees himself as the next Truman Capote, possibly finding inspiration in the misery of others. But instead, Stephen possibly reveals to himself why he’s in such a creative slump.
There’s also the possibility that THE ADDERALL DIARIES is unsure on how to proceed with these two separate narratives. That’s the overwhelming problem with THE ADDERALL DIARIES. It suffers just like Stephen, constantly struggling to find its own voice and message despite all the interesting concepts prevalent throughout. There are all these poorly intersecting plot lines that feel like they should mean something, but their value, if there is any, is never displayed.
Amber Heard plays the girlfriend that crumbles in Stephen’s hands and presence, watching, hearing, and helping him act on his carnal urges that were birthed in his adolescent, drug-fueled years. She’s another character that should add another subtle clue to what’s truly wrong with Stephen, but instead we’re treated to her highly improbable life. She’s a tattoo covered journalist that engages with Stephen sexually. I guess you could say she’s a terrible journalist and might find a place working at the yellow trash that is “Rolling Stone” magazine.
I’m sure the real Stephen Elliott is a fine writer. I’m sure his book, THE ADDERALL DIARIES, is a decent book and a wonderful read for those who’ve picked it up. And I’m sure writer/director Pamela Romanowsky is a smart woman with enough creative juices to remain prevalent amongst many Hollywood circles. But this movie is awful. It never comes together despite constantly flirting with cohesive and entertaining storytelling. Romanowsky is clearly at fault and this may be the last time she’s given complete creative control over a theatrical project.
I’d like to believe that in someone else’s hand, with the same cast and crew, that THE ADDERALL DIARIES may have been a fine movie for Franco and Harris to hang their hat on. But Romanowsky just doesn’t have the capabilities of creating a fluid film worthy of the actors attached to it. There’d be a lot to like about THE ADDERALL DIARIES if the right eye found it’s way behind the camera.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:39:1) THE ADDERALL DIARIES really lacks a visual voice and it’s evident in the framing and lighting throughout. It comes in clear, but the blu-ray picture quality is wasted.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) Just like the video aspects, the audio aspects of this are never heard or even memorable.
Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Pamela Romanowsky: I’m always willing to repeat my stance on solo commentaries on film; and that is I don’t like them. Romanowsky goes over the typical gambit of information, focusing in more on her favorite scenes and not being afraid of long silences. Or she’s just unsure of how to fill the void.
THE ADDERALL DIARIES: A Director’s Perspective (11:49): An interview with Romanowsky where she runs down what it was like to adapt the book, finding the right cast and a handful of her favorite scenes. Feels like a boring add-on after enduring the commentary.
Deleted Scenes (9:47): This is a block of four deleted scenes. It includes a different film intro, a flashback, and extended scenes. There’s no way to select the scenes individually.