Cert 15 113mins Stars 2
This dreary drug rehab drama is based on an 1990’s memoir by James Frey which achieved infamy when it’s accuracy was challenged.
Creative couple Sam and Aaron Taylor-Johnson wrote the screenplay with Sam directing and Aaron playing the lead role of James, who begins the film being dragged into a Christian rehab clinic.
Although at times Sam directs with a visual inventiveness which would make a Trainspotting-era Danny Boyle envious, and her husband commits to his part with a swinging physical performance, for the greatest stretch this is dull slog.
Plus for a character who we’re told has destroyed his innards and is one alcoholic drink away from death, there’s no disguising Taylor-Johnson still has the buff body from his Marvel superhero days.
Fellow inmates Billy Bob Thornton and Giovanni Ribisi do their best to maintain morale with homilies and camp humour, the former as a gangster with a unique dress sense, the latter as a self-styled sexual ninja. But the drama and the comedy jar instead of complementing each other.
A low key Juliette Lewis offers empathy as a counsellor, and as older James’ brother, Charlie Hunnam once again demonstrates how dynamite on set can translate to a damp squib on screen.
We’re offered romance, some effective dental torture scenes, and a positive message, but due to the lead character’s lack of personal hinterland, the finale fails to land the emotional punch it aims for.