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The Adderall Diaries (2015)

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Elliot, a troubled former successful writer decides to write about a missing wife and the following murder trial of her husband.


Pamela Romanowsky


Pamela Romanowsky, Stephen Elliott (based on the book by)
2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
James Franco ... Stephen Elliott
Ed Harris ... Neil Elliott
Amber Heard ... Lana Edmond
Jim Parrack ... Roger
Timothée Chalamet ... Teenage Stephen
Danny Flaherty ... Teenage Roger
Christian Slater ... Hans Reiser
Cynthia Nixon ... Jen Davis
Elizabeth Hobgood Elizabeth Hobgood ... Kathleen
Tamzin Brown ... Miranda
Rochelle Bostrom ... Amanda
Laura Frost ... Nina Reiser
Jake Katzman ... Cori Resier
Adam LeFevre ... Bill DuBois
Michael Cristofer ... Paul Hora


As a writer stymied by past success, writers block, substance abuse, relationship problems and a serious set of father issues, Elliott's cracked-out chronicle of a bizarre murder trial amounts to less than the sum of its parts. Not long into the 2007 trial of programmer Hans Reiser, accused of murdering his wife, the defendant's friend Sean Sturgeon obliquely confessed to several murders (though not the murder of Reiser's wife). Elliott, caught up in the film-ready twist and his tenuous connection to Sturgeon (they share a BDSM social circle), makes a record of the proceedings. The result is a scattered, self-indulgent romp through the mind of a depressive narcissist obsessed with his insecurities and childhood traumas. Written by Publisher's Weekly

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language throughout, drug use, sexuality, and some aberrant and disturbing content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

10 March 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

True Deception See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,517, 17 April 2016, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$11,287, 24 April 2016
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Second film James Franco has starred in that was released by A24, his first one was (Spring Breakers) See more »


[last lines]
Stephen Elliott: You remember when you taught me to drive? I was 14. You let me drive out to Warren park in a '69 mustang. I loved that car. You used to take me out, let me drive. I remember feelin' so happy and free, full of hope and potential.
Neil Elliott: I don't know why you always told people I taught you to drive in the mustang. It was a red 1968 Oldsmobile Delmont convertible, in Warren park in the parkin' lot. You were belligerent, and you were a terrible driver. So we only did it once.
Stephen Elliott: Wanna go for a ...
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Featured in Half in the Bag: 2016 Movie Catch-up (2016) See more »


Written by Tom Hirschmann
Published by Hatton Road Music
Performed by Tom Hirschmann
Courtesy of Selectracks, Inc.
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User Reviews

Stay away from this disaster of a movie
15 April 2016 | by paul-allaerSee all my reviews

"The Adderall Diaries" (2015 release; running time: 90 min.) brings the story of how Stephen Elliott (played by James Franco) deals with his distant past and also some current setbacks. As the movie opens, we see grainy video footage of a seemingly happy family. We then move to today, where Elliot gets the good news that Penguin has accepted a book proposal. In a parallel story, Elliot gets interested in a murder case (software engineer, played by Christian Slater, "disappears" his wife), and at the trial, Elliot makes the acquaintance of Lana, a NY Times reporter (played by Amber Heard. To tell you more might spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this is the feature length debut of writer-director Pamela Romanowsky, who was handpicked by James Franco himself for this job. The movie is based on the Stephen Elliot book of the same name. I have not read the book so I cannot compare how closely (or not) the movie is to the book. I had high expectations going in for this movie. Oh boy, what a disappointment this turned out to be, and I'm being mild. It takes a little while to figure out what is going on, but when it finally start to male sense, I waited to get transfixed. I waited, and waited.... Meanwhile, we see poor James Franco playing the tormented writer, struggling with writers block, and his horrible past, and it all feels so... acted!. We watch, and it does nothing for us. Thankfully there is Amber Heard, always easy on the eyes (and reason I don't give the movie just one star). Ed Harris (as Elliott's dad) and Christian Slater do the best they can with the material they are given, meaning not a whole lot. PLEASE NOTE: the running time is listed here on IMDb, Amazon and other places as being 105 min., but I can categorically tell you that the version I saw today was at most 90 min. Maybe the 105 min. refers to what was shown as the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, where this movie premiered. Yes, a year ago. Also, it turns out that Stephen Elliott himself has disavowed the movie.

The movie opened today out of the blue without any pre-release advertising or fanfare at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The early evening screening where I saw this at was not well attended, and I'm being mild (4 people, including myself). I can't imagine this will play in the theater more than a week. There is a reason this movie currently scores only 20 on Rotten Tomatoes: it's a pretty bad movie, in fact one of the worst I've seen in quite a while (and I see a lot of movies). Unless you are a die-hard fan of James Franco or Amber Heard, there is no reason at all to waste 90 or 105 min. on this. I'm sorry that I watched this movie, but that doesn't mean you have to.... Viewer beware!

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