Video Review: ‘The Adderall Diaries’

John Thomas
CHRISTIAN SLATER in The Adderall Diaries

The one positive thing Stephen Elliott (James Franco) has taken from his abusive childhood is that he’s written a bestseller about it. His autobiography has provided him literary fame, a comfortable income, nice apartment in New York, friends and a hard-working agent, Jen Davis (Cynthia Nixon).

In a recent phone call to him she excitedly announces that his next book will be picked up by a noted publishing house with substantial advances provided he submit monthly updates on his progress. He’s delighted with the news but not with the haunting thought that he has yet to visualize or even begin this new book.

So far, his only idea is to follow other great writers such as Truman Capote and his best seller In Cold Blood and write a story about an actual crime. Fortunately, there is such a case being tried in New York – a missing wife is presumed murdered by her husband.

Stephen diligently attends the proceedings and makes notes for his possible next novel. His attention is occasionally distracted by a newspaper journalist sitting nearby. They meet after one court session, have drinks and soon become lovers. His work and romance move along nicely.

One marketing strategy for Stephen’s new book is to hold a reading based on his current best seller. Reluctantly he agrees, and, dressed in suit and tie, reads to a group of his followers in a bookstore. He describes the slow fatal illness of his mother, his drug dependence, dropping out of school and living in the streets. The last loss of his young life was the death of his alcoholic, abusive father who once cut off his hair, tied him a pole, and then walked away.

His audience is taken by his story, almost to the point of tears, except for one man in the back row who stands up and calls Stephen a liar. The man is Neil Elliott (Ed Harris), his father – clearly not deceased.

It would appear Stephen will soon be homeless again. Days after the reading Jen calls Stephen into her offices to present him with bad news. The deal for his next book is off, as are his advances. Overnight he has become a persona non-grata in the literary world.

As if that weren’t bad enough, his father continues to hound him for attention. Having been ignored for several days, Neil breaks into Stephen’s apartment and awaits his return home. Neil has brought a box of items with him.

The confrontation does not go well. The yelling, arguing and verbal abuse between the two, so prevalent before, flares up again. Their shouting competition ends with Neil requesting Stephen look at the VHS video sitting at the top of the box – Neil again walks away. The box contains scraps of Stephen’s childhood and memories that he would rather forget – only a few he fondly remembers. He wants to ignore the VHS, but can’t and finally slides it into the player.

One good memory Stephen has is when Neil taught him how to drive and they took motor trips together. The closing scene of the film is of the two men in a car – Stephen is at the wheel and Neil is in the passenger seat, contently gazing out of the window.

Directed by Pamela Romanowsky (Credits:  The Institute, The Color of Time) this is a “should see” production that runs 87 minutes.


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