The film adaptation of James Frey’s controversial book A Million Little Pieces is a story of battling addiction, featuring moments that are both terrifying and strangely heartwarming.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson stars as James, a man who is sent to a rehab center by his brother Bob (Charlie Hunnam) after struggling with substance abuse issues. The film, directed by 50 Shades of Grey helmer Sam Taylor-Johnson, chronicles James’ time in rehab where he meets various characters dealing with their own issues, including patients Leonard (Billy Bob Thornton) and John (Giovanni Ribisi).
The red band trailer for the new film shows how intense James’ story will be when translated to the screen. In the opening of A Million Little Pieces’ new red band trailer, which dropped Wednesday, James is informed that he will not receive anesthesia or painkillers during a dental operation. The scene plays out like one from a horror movie, with James screaming through intense pain.
Other moments in the trailer use surrealism to explore James’ psyche. In one moment, walls bleed a brown liquid and in another, James is surrounded by what appears to be falling ash. At one point in the new trailer, James’ meal at the rehab center’s cafeteria shrinks and withers on his plate before his eyes, despite him never touching it.
The film is also full of grounded, emotional moments. A doctor informs James that if he continues to use drugs, he will likely go into cardiac arrest and die. Leonard implores James to not let his addiction take over his life. John declares he is leaving rehab, despite knowing that he’s not “better” yet and may never be.
It’s hard to separate A Million Little Pieces from the controversy of the novel. Originally published as a memoir in 2003, Frey’s work was lauded by many for its frank depiction of a man battling substance abuse issues. In 2006, however, Frey came under fire when website The Smoking Gun stated that they could not verify many of the sensational elements within the book that Frey purported to be true to his life. Oprah Winfrey, who chose A Million Little Pieces for her book club in 2005 and helped elevate the popularity of Frey’s work, called the author out in a television interview for “betraying” his readers.
Yet the controversy has not stopped Frey’s story from taking on new life — no matter how “true” his semi-fictional work really is. Whether the film will impress fans who were slighted by Frey’s fabrications remains to be seen.
Check out the trailer below:
A Million Little Pieces hits theaters December 6, 2019.