The Adderall Diaries (film)

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

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

The Adderall Diaries 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 troubled childhood. His mother died when he was a child and his father Neil was physically and psychologically abusive. During his adolescence, Stephen has lived most of his life behaving very destructively and abusing drugs (of which Adderall is an example) and committing petty vandalism.

Now in his 30s, Stephen accepts a deal to write his next book about Hans Reiser, a software guru who developed the Reiser filesystem. Hans had a volatile marriage and his wife has recently gone missing. Despite Hans' claims that his wife has simply gone into hiding to hurt him, the police arrested him on suspicion of murder, where he awaits trial. In attendance to the trial is Stephen who is hoping to make Hans' memoir a best seller.

Stephen's previous book is an autobiography about his childhood that is about to get released. At a press release, Stephen reads a part from the book talking about how his estranged father hurt and abused him only for Neil to stand out and brand him a liar. This causes Stephen to question his childhood memories. In despair, Stephen hooks up on recreational drugs, goes to a club, and sleeps with a random person. The next morning, a hungover Stephen checks his voicemails, which include his publisher dropping him for missing an important meeting, and Lana Edmond, a woman he was starting a relationship with, dumping him. To make matters worse, Stephen realizes that he also slept through the jury announcing their verdict on Hans, finding him guilty of murder.

Stephen reconnects with Neil where he finds out about his cancer diagnosis. While talking, Stephen figures out that while Neil made some parenting mistakes, Stephen is falsely remembering his father being downright abusive. A recurring memory of Neil handcuffing him until he bled was because Stephen was trying to commit suicide and Neil was desperately trying to restrain him.

In the end, Stephen writes over the course of two days about making amends with his father. Stephen's agent approves of the newly written manuscript and agrees to have it published. 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 children. 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 receptionEdit

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 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 receptionEdit

The film received negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a 25% score based on 36 reviews, with an average rating of 4.5/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Stylistically overwrought and tedious, The Adderall Diaries aspires for profundity but instead feels like a shambolic class project thrown together right before it was due."[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, stating that the final result had little in common with his memoir and wondering "why calling the character Stephen Elliott was necessary."[13]


  1. ^ "The Adderall Diaries (2016)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  2. ^ "The Adderall Diaries". Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  3. ^ Foutch, Haleigh (March 8, 2016). "'The Adderall Diaries' Trailer: James Franco Is Hopped Up and on the Hunt for Truth". Collider. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  4. ^ Ayers, Mike (April 22, 2015). "Tribeca Film Festival 2015: Meet 'The Adderall Diaries' Director Pamela Romanowsky". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  5. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (June 5, 2014). "Christian Slater Joins James Franco In 'Adderall Diaries'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  6. ^ Kay, Jeremy (May 16, 2014). "The Adderall Diaries shoot gets underway". Screen Daily. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  7. ^ Christine (May 23, 2014). "'The Adderall Diaries', starring James Franco, filming location in NYC on May 24". Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  8. ^ "The Adderall Diaries | 2015 Tribeca Festival".
  9. ^ Fleming, Mike (April 24, 2015). "A24 Acquires 'The Adderall Diaries' In 2nd Tribeca Deal of Day for Distri". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  10. ^ Sage, Alyssa (March 8, 2016). "Watch: James Franco Is on Edge in 'The Adderall Diaries' Trailer". Variety.
  11. ^ "The Adderall Diaries (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved November 20, 2022.
  12. ^ "The Adderall Diaries Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  13. ^ Elliot, Stephen (April 21, 2015). "The Strange Experience of Having My Memoir Turned Into a Movie". Retrieved August 16, 2021.

External linksEdit