Words on Bathroom Walls (2018)

AnnaSophia Robb, Andy Garcia, Walton Goggins, Molly Parker,
Words on Bathroom Walls is a movie starring Walton Goggins, AnnaSophia Robb, and Andy Garcia. Diagnosed with a mental illness halfway through his senior year of high school, a witty, introspective teen struggles to keep it a secret...
  • 6.8 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Nick Naveda, Julia Walton, Writer:
  • Thor Freudenthal, Director:
  • Mickey Liddell, Pete Shilaimon, Producer:


10 / 10


I'm not usually a big fan of teen love stories like I thought this was going to be. This movie is SOOOOO much more than that. It's informative, its about family, it's about accepting who you are, its about love its FABULOUS and it was the perfect movie to see on my first trip back to the theaters in 6 months! The acting was amazing, I love how the actors looked like real people and not some social media influencers. I cried I laughed THIS MOVIE WAS JUST WHAT I NEEDED! AND YOU NEED IT TOO JUST GO SEE IT

7 / 10

a new way of looking at it

Greetings again from the darkness. Very little outside 'the norm' is required for teenagers to ostracize one of their own. Sometimes it's a haircut or a brand of shoes, or even some other minor detail that sets them apart. But when it's a mental illness, the tribe can be merciless. Director Thor Freudenthal (DIARY OF A WIMPY KID, 2010) takes on Julia Walton's 2017 novel, with a screenplay from Nick Naveda. The film features two rising young stars and addresses some of the challenges brought on by the uncertainties associated with a mental illness.

Charlie Plummer (so terrific in LEAN ON PETE, 2018) stars as Adam, a high school senior who has dealt with the challenges of undiagnosed mental health issues since he was quite young. His father abandoned the family years ago, and Adam's devoted mother (Molly Parker, "House of Cards") is not only patient and loving, but also committed to researching any possible treatment that would lead Adam to a better life. On the other hand, Adam and his mother's new live-in lover Paul (Walton Goggins) don't exactly see eye-to-eye on things, leading to more anxiety for Adam.

In an interesting and unique approach, director Freudenthal allows us to not only hear the voices Adam hears, but also see the hallucinations and visions he sees - three of whom are Rebecca (AnnaSophia Robb, THE WAY WAY BACK), a sweet, hippie-ish optimist; The Bodyguard (Lobo Sebastian), a cigar-chomping, bat swinging he-man; and Joaquin (Devon Bostick), an inappropriately horny 'best friend from a 90's move." On top of that, there is a black mist that periodically manifests, enveloping Adam and bringing on crippling fear and isolation. After a years-long stream of drug therapy, Adam is pronounced "treatment resistant" and diagnosed as schizophrenic. Adam's only mind-calming escape is when he's cooking. He knows his way around the kitchen and his goal is to attend Culinary School after graduation.

One day, Adam has a psychotic break during Chemistry class. He gets expelled, which jeopardizes his Culinary School dream. His mother gets him admitted to a Catholic School run by Sister Catherine (Beth Grant) at the same time he is accepted into an experimental drug trial. He's allowed to stay in school as long as he takes his meds and maintains his grades. It's here where he meets the dynamic Maya (Taylor Russell (WAVES, 2019). Maya is smart and ambitious and proud, and the two quickly form a bond - an interesting bond between two smart high school kids carrying their own burdens and holding their own secrets.

Sister Catherine is balancing the specific needs of Adam with her responsibility to the school, and then there is also prom and graduation to deal with. With the new drug, the voices and visions disappear, but Adam has some issues with the side effects. A desperate plea for help from Father Patrick (Andy Garcia), the school priest, provides a boost as Adam tells him, "It's nice to be listened to and not just observed." That line provides significant insight into what it's like to have this affliction, and that's really where the movie excels ... putting us in the shoes of a schizophrenic and allowing us to experience the good and bad moments. What can Adam trust? His eyes? His ears? His mind?

Adam and Maya are both trying to figure out who they are, at the same time learning what it really means to love someone. Adam refers to his illness as his "burgeoning insanity", and in fact, schizophrenia does have a history of accelerating over time once it strikes a young person. The movie succeeds in taking away some of the mystique of mental illness, by making it approachable and something we want to better understand. There is a visual reference to Van Gogh's "Starry Night" that might be a bit too "nail on the head", but Freudenthal's movie is profound and features two very talented young actors. The humanity beneath the surface of those society would rather pretend don't exist is effectively compared to those stricken with cancer ... those we would do anything for. I watched this film back-to-back with another teen-drama-romance new release entitled CHEMICAL HEARTS, and it's extremely rare to find two such thought-provoking films centered on a pair of high school students ... but quite a treat (although I believe all 4 actors are long past high school age).

10 / 10

Don't Miss this Film

Inciteful, touching, and at times surprisingly stunning- Words on Bathroom Walls may follow familiar tropes from other coming of age stories, but there is no doubt that what lies here in this film is incredibly and uniquely original. Before I address anything else about this film, I would like to call to attention Charlie Plummer performance. His depth of emotion in his character, and his absolute brilliance playing him I think may go unrecognized, and I could not write this review without saying how truly wrong it is if that were to be the case. The other actors in the film do a very well job too, notably Taylor Russell, Walton Goggins, and Andy Garcia. There is never a dull moment in this film, you will laugh, cry, and be on the edge of your seat throughout. The film does such a good job of putting you in the headspace of this character, that you can't help but feel, as the film goes on, that you may have done the same, were you in that same scenario. It's a breathtaking work, and it's not the best coming of age story I have seen. It takes familiar plot developments as does Hughes films back in the 80's as well as some similar instances from more modern day flicks like Love, Simon and The Fault in Our Stars (both based on books like this one). However noticeable these instances may be, it doesn't take away from what you get from this film, and it certainly doesn't take away from what you feel without. You will leave this film with a smile on your face. It's a clever and unique view into the life of so many stories that haven't been quite recognized yet, or at the very least, not recognized as much as they should have been. It's a sweet and touching tale of growing up and fearing rejection for who you are, and how to get through it when all the odds are against you and more. I couldn't recommend this film enough. One of the best of the year.My Rating: 9.75/10

10 / 10

I drove home in silence

Without relying on an A-list cast or a soundtrack of radio hits, this film left me speechless. After listening to one song I decided to drive the rest of the way home from the theatre with no music. I was left in awe of the way this film made me feel so hopeful. Never in my life as an avid movie-goer have I loved or rooted for a character as much as I did watching this. A definite must-see, this is a film I will be sharing, talking about, and returning to for years to come. I always cry in movies, but this was a new level of crying, in the best way. Thank you to all those involved for the powerful acting performances and gripping plot points that made this movie so important to me.

10 / 10

I loved this movie

I have never watched a move about the struggles of having Schizophrenia. Truly, I knew very little about it. I thought this wonderful and so eye opening to the disease but also so heart warming and hopeful to see how love conquers the negative effects of it. Also this was definitely not the purpose of the movie since it is not a Christian movie, but it shows that when you do as the word of God says, things have to change. They cannot stay they same. I recommend this to everyone. Truly one of the only good movies out right now. Must see.