A Million Little Pieces trailer

In 2006, director Mark Romanek (Never Let Me Go, One Hour Photo) was in pre-production on a film adaptation of James Frey’s memoir A Million Little Pieces when he heard the bad news: the book, which had been promoted as part of Oprah’s Book Club and became a huge best-seller, wasn’t really a memoir at all. Frey had fabricated several aspects of the book, he went on Oprah’s show to apologize, and Romanek’s film adaptation was scrapped.

But now, inexplicably, the book has gotten a film adaptation anyway, this time with Sam Taylor-Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey) behind the camera directing her husband Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass) in the lead role. Check out the trailer below.

A Million Little Pieces Trailer

I have to wonder why this story – one which poet James Dolan called “the worst thing [he’s] ever read” in his scathing review, which itself was titled “A Million Pieces of Shit” – was chosen to be told, even knowing how James Frey manipulated readers into thinking these experiences were his own. I’m not inherently opposed to movies being made based on books written by terrible people: the real Jordan Belfort is a total scumbag, but Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of The Wolf of Wall Street is still a great film. I do sometimes grapple with how that movie made Belfort richer, though, and I’m grappling here with the same concept for Frey. Is this story really worth it?

Apparently, the husband and wife team of Aaron and Sam-Taylor Johnson think it is – they co-wrote this film’s screenplay, which is the first time they’ve collaborated in that way. Billy Bob Thornton, Odessa Young, Giovanni Ribisi, Juliette Lewis, Charlie Hunnam, Dash Mihok, Charles Parnell, Ryan Hurst, David Dastmalchian, and Tom Amandes co-star in what looks to be a movie with an uplifting, life-affirming message. The A Million Little Pieces controversy was a big deal in the mid-2000s, but maybe enough time has passed where the majority of the people who see this movie won’t ever know about the real behind-the-scenes story of the book.

A Million Little Pieces poster

Here’s the movie’s official synopsis:

An alcoholic and a drug addict, 23 year-old James has two options: treatment or death. After waking up on a plane with a smashed up face and no memory of the past few weeks, he heads to rehab where he discovers much more than detox and therapy. As James endures the white-knuckle journey of mending his broken body, he heals his broken soul by connecting with other kindred spirits who also yearn and fight for a better life.

A Million Little Pieces arrives in theaters on December 6, 2019.

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