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Aaron Taylor-Johnson – James Frey
Billy Bob Thornton – Leonard
Giovanni Ribisi – John
Odessa Young – Lilly
Charlie Hunnam – Bob Frey
Juliette Lewis – Joanne
David Dastmalchian – Roy
Andy Buckley – Dr. Stevens
Charles Parnell – Miles Davis
When I left the cinema after watching this film I felt like I wanted to cry. This was one of those rare gems that tugged at my heart strings and the lead character somehow stirred my emotions.
A man being carried on to an airplane is one thing, but being almost forced to check in – and stay in – rehab is quite another. During its early stages this film examines the subject of humanity and how far a family will go to save the soul of one of its members, played beautifully by Hunnam and Taylor-Johnson. Right at the beginning is when a tearful goodbye is said, which is grounds enough for a trembling bottom lip. But fast-forward half an hour and A Million Little Pieces has already invaded your senses with more emotion than a tragic novel. A feeling of progression quickly followed by despair, violent behaviour and remorse, sadness, laughter and hope churn throughout the movie as it becomes increasingly more sensitive.
And the squeamish should be aware; a visit to a clinic for the protagonist to get himself sorted out ends up an uneasy watch when certain parts of his face are broken in order to fix them. If the sound of a dentist drill puts you on edge, this scene will send you over it (I spent this scene doing that ‘wincing with my head slowly turning to the side’ thing). This is where emotional and physical pain collide and bring to light the differences between a person needing help, actually wanting help, and the willpower to go get it.
In terms of plot simplicity this movie wins hands down; man is seen abusing drugs and booze which leads to a tragic accident.
Man is dragged to a rehab facility.
Man displays all the traits of a person in desperate need.
Rehab patients are gradually introduced for different reasons.
Man begins recovery which poses the question of whether he will make it to the end or not.
A Million Little Pieces doesn’t get wrapped up in bullshit histories of people, it just places them in the picture and they back up the leading man nicely. Young performs brilliantly as Lilly, a slight love interest for James who clearly has issues of her own which are brought dramatically to a head and in return an even more emotional performance is delivered by Taylor-Johnson. The two are great on screen together. And as for Ribisi – Jesus. The actor bursts into the picture as sex maniac John, and literally the second sentence he speaks is offering James a fuck. Which is naturally refused by the heterosexual. His characteristics are hilariously effective; think Ian Watkins (H from Steps) meets Bruno Tonioli as he camps it up and latet on tries to jump our leading man in the shower.
This scene where John throws himself at James as he takes a shower made me gasp – not because of his actions. But because of the size of Taylor-Johnson’s manhood. Holy Jesus Christ, it is ENORMOUS. An absolute donger, and if you already think this actor easy on the eye then his willy is going to make your eyeballs leave their sockets.
So as usual (unless what I’ve watched is beyond dire), I’ll give you the negative side of the movie as well as its positive.
The downside to A Million Little Pieces is how it focuses primarily on just the one place; the clinic in which many of the residents are recovering addicts of some kind. In that sense it runs almost like a documentary by following individuals and observing their daily lives – with the juicy bits edited out. Not overly exciting, which is why it’s a good thing the lead actor nails it with his heartwrenching performance.
This movie left me reeling with empathy for the lead character. Less is more here as Taylor-Johnson gives it his all in an incredibly subtle performance. Just James stood on the spot trembling with a lost look on his face makes a big impact. A great level of dynamic goes into this portrait of a broken man.