The Adderall Diaries (film)

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The Adderall Diaries
The Adderall Diaries poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPamela Romanowsky
Produced by
  • Vince Jolivette
  • James Franco
  • James Reach
  • Joseph McKelheer
  • Marni Zelnick
Written byPamela Romanowsky
Based onThe Adderall Diaries
by Stephen Elliott
Music byMichael Andrews
CinematographyBruce Thierry Cheung
Edited byMarc Vives
Distributed byA24
Release date
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$15,364[1]

The Adderall Diaries is a 2015 American crime thriller film written and directed by Pamela Romanowsky, based on a "true-crime memoir" book of the same name by Stephen Elliott. The underlying true crime is the Hans Reiser murder case. The film stars James Franco, Ed Harris, Amber Heard and Christian Slater.

The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 16, 2015.[2] The film was released on DirecTV Cinema on March 10, 2016, prior to opening in a limited release on April 15, 2016, by A24.[3]


Stephen Elliott is a successful author with a troubling childhood. His mother died when he was a child and his father was physically and psychologically abusive. He has lived most of his life behaving very destructively and abusing drugs and committing petty vandalism.

He had recently gotten a deal to write his next book and decided to write about Hans Reiser, a software guru who developed the Reiser filesystem. He had a volatile marriage and his wife has gone missing. Despite his claims that his wife has simply gone into hiding to hurt him, the cops arrested him for her murder and he is now on trial. Stephen is attending court every day and following the case, in hopes of writing a best seller.

His previous book was a memoir about his childhood that is about to get released. At the release party, he is reading from his book talking about how his late father hurt and abused him and his father Neil Elliott stands up in the crowd and calls him a liar. This causes him to question his childhood memories. In despair, he gets high and goes to a club and sleeps with a random person. He wakes up the middle of next day. His voicemails include his publisher dropping him for missing an important meeting and a girlfriend he was starting a relationship with dumping him. To make matters worse, he also realizes that he slept through the jury finding Hans Reiser guilty of murder.

He connects with his father and realizes that he is dying and wants to make amends. While talking, he figures out that while Neil made some parenting mistakes, Stephen is falsely remembering his father being downright abusive. A recurring memory of his father handcuffing him until he bled was because Stephen was trying to kill himself and Neil was desperately trying to restrain him.

In the end, he writes over the course of two days about making amends with his father. His agent reads it and loves it. She agrees to find him another publisher. Meanwhile, it is revealed in the news that Hans has finally admitted to killing his wife because she was going to leave him and take his kids and he killed her in anger. He has shown the cops where her body is buried in exchange for a lesser sentence.




Director Pamela Romanowsky met James Franco at New York University while attending the MFA Film Program. After collaborating on a short film, he hired her to direct The Adderall Diaries as he had previously purchased the rights.[4] In June 2014, Christian Slater had been cast in the film.[5]


Principal photography began on May 16, 2014 in Brooklyn.[6] On May 23, filming was underway in New York City.[7]

Release and reception[edit]

The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 16, 2015.[8] Shortly after the premiere, its distributed rights were acquired by A24 Films and DirecTV Cinema, the film would premiere on DirecTV before a theatrical and video on demand release.[9]

The film was released on March 10, 2016, on DirecTV Cinema prior to a limited theatrical release on April 15, 2016.[10]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it currently holds a 19% score based on 32 reviews, with an average rating of 4.44/10.[11] Metacritic reports a 42 out of 100 rating based on 16 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[12]

Stephen Elliott reviewed the film negatively saying that the final result had little in common with his memoir and wondered "why calling the character Stephen Elliott was necessary."[13]


  1. ^ "The Adderall Diaries (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  2. ^ "The Adderall Diaries". Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  3. ^ Foutch, Haleigh (March 8, 2016). "'The Adderall Diaries' Trailer: James Franco Is Hopped Up and on the Hunt for Truth". Collider. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  4. ^ Ayers, Mike. "Tribeca Film Festival 2015: Meet 'The Adderall Diaries' Director Pamela Romanowsky". Retrieved April 22, 2015.
  5. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (June 5, 2014). "Christian Slater Joins James Franco In 'Adderall Diaries'". Retrieved June 5, 2014.
  6. ^ Kay, Jeremy (May 16, 2014). "The Adderall Diaries shoot gets underway". Retrieved May 25, 2014.
  7. ^ Christine (May 23, 2014). "'The Adderall Diaries', starring James Franco, filming location in NYC on May 24". Retrieved May 25, 2014.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Sage, Alyssa (March 8, 2016). "Watch: James Franco Is on Edge in 'The Adderall Diaries' Trailer". Variety. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  11. ^ "The Adderall Diaries (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  12. ^ "The Adderall Diaries reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  13. ^ Elliot, Stephen. "The Strange Experience of Having My Memoir Turned Into a Movie". Retrieved April 22, 2015.

External links[edit]