In 2003 James Frey published his memoir, “A Million Little Pieces”. A piece of work that initially received widespread acclaimed on release. However, went on to court controversy after the author admitted fictionalising some key aspects of his apparent life story. This controversy was only heightened by an interview on the Oprah Winfrey show. Where Oprah asked Frey to apologise to readers over a book she claimed was largely a piece of fiction.
15 years later the scuffle that ensued seems slightly over egged. After all in all honesty, how many books labelled memoirs are 100% based in fact? However, it does create a strange dynamic in translating the book to screen. One that may lead to many people forgoing the film due to the controversy surrounding the original book.
Sam Taylor-Johnsons adaptation of Frey’s novel comes in a year when addiction drama’s have sat front and centre in cinema with mixed success. From the powerful ‘Beautiful Boy’ to the limp melodrama ‘Ben is Back‘ and the frustrating ‘The Souvenir‘. Addiction and recovery have been a core staple of the 2019 film journey.
A Million Little Pieces therefore needed to offer something unique, and does provide moments where it achieves this. With strong performances dovetailing with cinematography that plays to the light and dark of the recovery process. Equally, direction is strong from Sam Taylor-Johnson, alongside a gripping central performance from her husband Aaron Taylor-Johnson. However, ultimately A Million Little Pieces failure lays within the transition from book to film. With a confused narrative that only highlights the problems inherent in the original book.