Mental health is at the forefront of many films, but finding a way to take us into the world of a teen diagnosed with schizophrenia with humor and heart is a rare find. “Words on Bathroom Walls” is an extraordinary tale of one boy’s struggle as his family attempts to cure and ultimately find a way to understand the condition. Based on the book by Julia Walton, Nick Navada’s screenplay brings us into this unique world to experience it safely and to better understand it. It’s a mesmerizing, entertaining, and enlightening story that seeks compassion and understanding in this volatile world of a high schooler with a little-known mental disorder.
Charlie Plummer, a name that from this critic’s point of view, should be a household name. His range and ability to delve into any character to give it incredible nuances is found in every role including this very complicated one of Adam. We see what he sees, and we feel what he feels– his first love, his frustrations with his mother (Molly Parker), his distrust of his step father (Walton Goggins), and his embarrassment and insecurities.
This strong cast supported by incredible visuals allows us to better understand a disorder that for most of us was previously a mystery. Additionally, there’s a strong sense of humor in the writing which is deftly executed by Plummer to make us laugh amidst the chaos in his head. While the ending struggles to tie all the loose ends together and perhaps becomes a little too predictably “Hollywood,” it doesn’t take away from the sincerity and authenticity of the story.
3 1/2 Stars