Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Words On Bathroom Walls - Movie Review

The Movie: Words On Bathroom Walls

The Director: Thor Freudenthal

The Cast: Charlie Plummer, Andy Garcia, Taylor Russell, AnnaSophia Robb, Beth Grant, Devon Bostick, Lobo Sebastian, Molly Parker, Walton Goggins

The Story: A teenager coping with paranoid schizophrenia hopes his new experimental drug treatment will help him navigate high school and the outside world.

The Review:
Sometimes a movie will hit you in a very personal way and you can't help but get lost in the story and the emotions and the world the characters are living in. This movie is adapted by Nick Naveda from a book of the same name that was written by Julia Walton and the story is just beautifully written, I'm sure with both writers deserving equal credit. Naveda also wrote and directed a movie called Say You Will that came out a few years ago and both films have such a personal touch to them like he is pulling the stories and characters straight from his own life experiences. Tackling subject matter like this, the main character has schizophrenia has to be challenging to get right and I feel like it was portrayed in a unique way that really helps to understand how the disease can affect a person.

Also, take a look at this incredible cast I mean seriously. Charlie Plummer and Taylor Russell are young, rising stars in the Hollywood landscape and they definitely lead the way in this film with some really strong performances. Then you throw in Andy Garcia, Walton Goggins, Molly Parker, and AnnaSophia Robb and the whole thing gets exponentially better. Honestly, this was a very strong group effort across the board and I especially enjoyed the team of actors that make up the voices in Adam's schizophrenic reality. I'm not going to describe that any further, just know that the story builds the voices out as allies who have an increasingly dangerous effect on the young man's well being.

Understanding schizophrenia is a very complicated thing and I love how the outright stigma and even fear coming from others is boldly addressed in this movie. If you have schizophrenia, I feel like you will see yourself in this movie which is amazing because representation is important for everyone. For anyone who has a friend, family member, or loved one who lives with schizophrenia, you will also see yourself in this movie and you may look at that existence a bit differently after you've had a chance to take it all in. I definitely looked at some of the familiar behaviors in a different light and I feel like I have a better understanding of what someone is going through as they navigate this particular illness.

That last paragraph should in no way scare you off from watching this movie as the story telling isn't nearly as heavy handed as you might take from what I just talked about. Naveda and director Thor Freudenthal took great care in making this a fun, emotional, and accessible coming of age story that is also profoundly unique in the heavy lifting that it also manages to accomplish. The end result is a movie that has the vibe of high school comedies like She's All That or Never Been Kissed, which is actually referenced in the movie, mixed in with the type of subject matter that is extremely underrepresented.

The Verdict:
Words On Bathroom Walls is a high school romantic comedy, it is a coming of age family drama, and it is a uniquely brilliant look into the mind of a young man learning to love while living with mental illness. This is a movie I would absolutely recommend.

Screenwriter Nick Naveda sat down (virtually) with the Podcast to discuss the movie. Nick talks about what it meant to tell this story, how the casting came together, and what he wants people to take away from watching the movie.

Check out the brand new Podcast!

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