Words On Bathroom WallsCast: Walton Goggins, Andy Garcia, Molly Parker, AnnaSophia Robb, Charlie Plummer, Taylor Russell
Author(s): Nick Naveda
Director: Thor Freudenthal
Release Date: 06/11/2020
Running Time: 111mins
Adam is a witty, introspective high school student who hopes to enrol in culinary school and become a chef. Following an incident in chemistry class, Adam is expelled from school and he is diagnosed with schizophrenia. He transfers to a Catholic academy to complete senior year and intentionally keeps his distance from other students. Fiery classmate Maya catches his eye and forces Adam to believe that his condition won't hold him back.
LondonNet Film Review
Words On Bathroom Walls (PG)
Based on the young adult novel by Julia Walton, Words On Bathroom Walls follows a well-thumbed playbook of coming-of-age stories but sets itself apart from the hormone-addled crowd by delving into the troubled mind of its teenage protagonist. In a year when mental health has been elevated in the public consciousness, director Thor Freudenthal’s moving drama is a timely call to arms for compassion and understanding for those who are suffering in isolation. Screenwriter Nick Naveda addresses the lead character’s schizophrenia with sensitivity and wry humour, employing visual cues as a cinematic shorthand for a complex and potentially frightening condition…
His script repeatedly references the cultural landscape: an enterprising student who sells essays to struggling classmates is pithily described as the “Bernie Madoff of academic fraud”, while the lead character sarcastically anticipates an emotional outpouring with his psychiatrist when he quips “I was looking forward to our Good Will Hunting moment”. Actor Charlie Plummer deftly navigates the inner turmoil and mood swings of his alienated 17-year-old. His sympathetic, finely calibrated performance is matched by the luminous Taylor Russell as a spunky classmate, who understands the delicate art of concealing deep-rooted pain.
Witty, introspective high school student Adam Petrizelli (Plummer) is diagnosed with schizophrenia, which manifests as a pervasive, spider-like darkness that leeches into his waking visions. Voices in his head take the form of three distinct, competing personalities: hippy chic free spirit Rebecca (AnnaSophia Robb), sex-obsessed teen Joaquin (Devon Bostick) and baseball bat-wielding thug The Bodyguard (Lobo Sebastian). A psychotic break in chemistry class leads to expulsion from school and Adam transfers midway through his senior year to Saint Agatha’s Catholic academy so he can graduate and pursue his dream of attending culinary school.
Sister Catherine (Beth Grant) agrees to admit Adam on condition that he achieves a solid grade point average, scores above 90% on the end-of-term benchmark examination and continues to takes part in the trial of a new drug, Tozaprex. The youngster relies heavily on his doting mother Beth (Molly Parker) for encouragement. Running battles with a new stepfather, Paul (Walton Goggins), who insists on hiding all the knives in the house, are unsettling. Meanwhile, at the academy, sassy valedictorian Maya (Russell) catches Adam’s eye but he is reluctant to share the truth about his mental health.
Words On Bathroom Walls strikes a pleasing balance between honouring and subverting genre conventions. At least one cathartic speech doesn’t elicit the response we expect. Plummer and Russell are appealing foils and they catalyse simmering chemistry that elevates their on-screen romance. Growing up isn’t child’s play and Freudenthal’s picture confidently captures the messiness and uncertainty of those wonder years.
– Jo Planter
London Cinemas Showing Words On Bathroom Walls
From: Friday 20th November
To: Thursday 26th November
From: Friday 27th November
To: Thursday 3rd December
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