8/10 Like several of the films released into newly opened theaters, “Words on Bathroom Walls” is another film I was unaware of until I looked at showtimes to figure out what new films I could go watch. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised that this ended up being a pretty great film. In recent years we have seen films dealing with teenage lovers dealing with life threatening medical conditions (“Five Feet Apart”, “The Fault in our Stars”, etc.) to varying degrees of success and while cancer has been a rather popular go to medical problem for our celluloid heroes, this film gives us a look at a main character who suffers from schizophrenia. We tend to relate schizophrenia to adult, homeless men that we see talking to themselves on the street corners and not really anybody else. What’s great is that this film shines a light on this debilitating mental illness and shows it can impact virtually anyone, young or old. I can’t recall a film that has dealt with this subject matter outside of characters in psychological horror films dealing with it. This film helps eliminate the stigma of schizophrenia so we as a society don’t view people suffering from it as weird, crazy or freaks. As for the film itself, the visuals presented and sound mixing of the voices our protagonist hears is very well done and inventive. Director Thor Freudenthal has a firm grasp on the subject matter and has some creative ways of communicating this mental illness to the audience visually. The voices in our protagonist’s head take human form and play various roles in his life and to see them as human beings talking to him as opposed to just voices we hear was a great decision on the film makers’ part. Our two leading actors, Charlie Plummer and Taylor Russell give terrific, layered performances and show maturity beyond their years. Russell, coming off of last year’s “Waves” (my pick for the 4th best film of 2019) continues to sign onto starring roles in some amazing films with terrific scripts, as opposed to just anything she is offered and she is definitely a rising star to keep an eye on. The supporting cast is solid too (Andy Garcia breaks his streak of several terrible movies in a row), although Walton Goggins is underutilized until near the film’s end. I am not too familiar with the music of The Chainsmokers (OK boomer) but their score, co-written by Andrew Hollander, is well suited to the film and memorable. Exposition is often a problem in many films but “Words on Bathroom Walls” has a smart way of communicating the exposition through our lead’s talks with his therapist, which worked very well. As for the film’s minor problems, our two protagonists attend a Catholic school and there were a couple of unrealistic aspects to it. There is a bathroom that is not functioning in a part of the school students are not supposed to go into and realistically, the door to the bathroom would be locked, not open for any student to sneak into. Similarly, during a prom scene, Plummer’s character is able to get all the way up to the rafters in the auditorium, another giant red flag in terms of safety for the school that would lead to a lawsuit really quick and that realistically would have been off limits as well. Although the visuals were vivid and original, some of the special effects (fire in an early scene, black smoke in a late scene) often look very cheesy and unrealistic. Those minor problems won’t diminish too strongly your enjoyment of the film as its strong performances, unique subject matter, solid pacing and overall enjoyment and creativity make this a film that if voices in your head tell you that you should go see it, you’d be smart to listen to them.
#YouHaveSchizophrenia?IDontMind / #AllTheMedicationInTheWorld / #SideSpecialEffects / #AdamAndGrieve / #ThisWillBlowYourMind / #BrainTeaserTrailer