Thursday, August 20, 2020

Schizophrenia explored in Thor Freudenthal & Nick Naveda's adaptation of Julia Walton's WORDS ON BATHROOM WALLS

Who knew that Schizophrenia could be quite so entertaining, moving, funny, and even feel-good as this severe and very problematic mental disorder proves to be in the new film WORDS ON BATHROOM WALLS. Directed by TV- and movie-maker Thor Freudenthal, with a screenplay adapted by Nick Naveda from the popular novel by Julia Walton, the film boasts an excellent cast and very fine performances -- especially from its two leads, Charlie Plummer and Taylor Russell, and virtually all of the terrific supporting actors -- and our immediate, immersive involvement via the screenplay and direction, as we enter the world of its schizophrenic hero, Adam, played by Mr. Plummer.

Mr. Freudenthal, shown at right, along with his editor Peter McNulty, gives the film good pacing, never dawdling too long over things we already know. We meet Adam (above, right, and below, left) and quickly learn about his "problem," via the clever introduction of the enablers that his schizophrenia has created (two photos down; left to right, Lobo Sebastian, AnnaSophia Robb and Devon Bostick) who help him act out some of his worst instincts.

When Adam allows these three to guide his actions, major trouble ensues, despite the best efforts of his very caring mom (Molly Parker), his maybe not-so-awful-as-we-imagine stepdad (Waylon Goggins) along with his soon-to-be girlfriend (the lovely Ms Russell, shown in photo at bottom).

There is also one of those marvelously empathetic and wise Catholic priests (played quite nicely by Andy Garcia, below, right), the sort that, if there were more of which, all that child molestation might not be forever be in the news, as well as the not-so-sympathetic head (Beth Grant) of the Catholic high school Adam has had to transfer into, who does not make his life quite as pleasant as she might.

All these characters and the events they (and Adam) help create make the film's 111-minute running time pass quickly and entertainingly enough until the film closes with what only can be called a happy and feel-good ending. 

I came away from Words on Bathroom Walls perfectly content to have seen and enjoyed the film. Yet a nagging sense lingered that Schizophrenia itself had been ill-served in the process. Not that those who suffer from it cannot somehow manage some kind of relatively (not normal maybe but) manageable life. And I suspect that Walton's novel and this adaptation are both working toward that purpose. But as served up here, things all work out just a little too easily.

From LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions, the movie opens theatrically (where allowed; click here to find theaters that might be near you) tomorrow, Friday, August 21. 

Photo credit: Jacob Yacob

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