Parents' Guide to

A Million Little Pieces

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Adults-only rehab drama shocks but falls short on story.

Movie R 2019 113 minutes
A Million Little Pieces Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 1 parent review

age 17+

A Million Little Pieces - Come In For Repair

While maybe not always completely successful in conveying its important message, this work wears its heart on its sleeve. At times it’s a hard watch, with some slightly over-the-top details but offers important considerations to all those booked in for serious detox treatment; A: Think seriously about all the challenges, regardless of your biased beliefs. B: Remember, others before you, have overcome their petty and physical opposition towards the cures outlined stages, and gone on to win the battle – give up and you’re lost. Good performances manage to keep it on target and it’s always interesting to see Australian Odessa Young on screen (even though here quite bleak) The co-writing and direction by the co-writer/lead performer’s wife is competent and the two eventually manage to make us feel for the subject. Between the above-average cinematography, there’s also a hard-working soundtrack helping to move it along. A couple of early, overindulged scenes finally give way to serious outcomes – even if not all as fully desired. Note: Heavy Language, nudity, drug use

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Frey's story is intended as a scared-straight awakening, but it feels more like a series of slaps in the face. Watching A Million Little Pieces is a visceral experience that's meant to shock you into understanding the intense struggle of trying to escape addiction. But it ends up being too much unpleasant imagery and too little story-building. For instance, we get a year-by-year laundry list of James' dalliances with drugs and alcohol but never hear which events led him to pursue a high so relentlessly. And it's hard to see why other characters are drawn to him: He's a world-class jerk. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson and her husband/the film's star, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, co-wrote the script -- Aaron's first produced screenplay and Sam's second. The gritty memoir is a big bite for one's first chew; instead of a story that flows, what we get is a series of rehab vignettes.

Both Taylor-Johnsons have immense talent, and so they're almost at odds with their own creation. Sam, known for her eye as an artist, adds a lovely aesthetic to scenes that are otherwise repulsive: a crack den fight; a wild party where James is high out of his mind and dancing fully naked, nethers swinging; and even a moment when he's slipping and sliding in the excrement he envisions running down the walls. Aaron is one of the finest actors of his generation, and it's easy to see why he'd be eager to bring his touch to this complicated character. But because of the disjointed storytelling, his performances comes off overwrought and act-y. Even old pro Billy Bob Thornton doesn't sizzle in every scene: His down home, comfortable delivery is welcome but out of place. Juliette Lewis, on the other hand, is spot on as a former addict-turned-drug counselor. In some scenes, elements shine; in others, those same elements fail. Living up to its title, the completed work never quite gels.

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