Dare it be said, A Million Little Pieces is an idyllic view of what rehab is
Surprisingly limited in its existence, A Million Little Pieces is far more introspective that it would first have you believe. There’s a strong motif that this is a film about Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s James Frey, a drug addict forced into rehab by his distant brother, and the way those inside the institution assist him in returning to normality. But the film is far more self-analysing than that, and whilst that has its merits, it often weighs the piece down into becoming overly self-indulgent and decidedly over the top. Almost as a piece written by someone about what they consider rehab to be like, rather than someone who has experienced it or actually knows what these people are going through. Dare it be said, A Million Little Pieces is an idyllic view of what rehab is.
Yet it would be harsh to suggest that A Million Little Pieces is a derivative look at life in a rehabilitation centre, posing as more of a naive take. The film itself is actually thoroughly engaging, with Taylor-Johnson’s lead posing as an unpredictable piece in a questionable system. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson manages to promote the idea of a downbeat system fairly well, giving impetus to the side characters as they try to make the best of a difficult situation. But that is of course, the issue; everyone Frey interacts with is a side piece to his lead, and someone often locked in a room will always be a difficult situation to explore, and unless it is done expertly like 2015’s Room, it can fail in a multitude of ways.
Some of the more visionary moments of A Million Little Pieces are exciting and genuinely original, but too often does the piece resort back to conversations around a canteen table, or a bicker between roommates. It’s a film with a great deal of intention, but a lack of certainty and conviction.
It’s subject topic is rife throughout cinema, and rarely poses any new ideas, only variations on the norm, and it has a central motif of insanity that feels off during particularly pertinent moments of the film. Yet it’s easy to be negative about a film that so readily approaches a topic film making in general love to touch upon, and just because A Million Little Pieces has come after many similar projects, does not mean it is naturally worse. Unneeded at worst, engaging at best, the Taylor-Johnson’s have created a feature with positives, it’s just not clear whether they actually manage to outweigh the negatives enough.
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