Based on the best-selling book of the same name, Words on Bathroom Walls is a teen romcom with a lot more depth than most. Charlie Plummer stars as Adam, a teen with a huge passion for cooking, which developed after his father left. During his final year of senior school Adam has a mental break during science class and is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Adam is expelled from school and his mother starts a quest to find him a medication that works.
Once things start to smooth out, Adam is enrolled in a Christian school where he meets the smart and sassy Maya, projected valedictorian of the school and eventual tutor to Adam. Adam soon finds himself in love and struggling to hide his mental illness from Maya (Taylor Russell), not wanting to scare her away.
First, I need to commend the creators of the film for how they portrayed Adam’s schizophrenia in an interesting but understandable way. Instead of just having voices in Adam’s head, they gave those voices a character. There was Rebecca, the free spirit that guided Adam and tried to help keep him sane, Joaquin the horny teen and prankster, and the menacing, baseball bat wielding bodyguard looking to ‘take care of’ whomever Adam chooses.
These characters don’t just suddenly appear, they work their way into the film and become a large part of the story. There’s also one other character, that dark evil voice in Adam’s head, who we rarely see but often hear. It’s the voice that puts the doubt in his mind and fuels his paranoia. This voice is depicted as a dark fog that creeps into the room, engulfing everything and trying to swallow Adam up, until he snaps out of it and the fog disappears. I found this to be a fantastic way of depicting something that can be so difficult, and something that you wouldn’t want to get wrong. I feel the way that mental health is portrayed in Words on Bathroom Walls has been executed tastefully and with the uptmost respect to those that live with mental disorder.
I’ve also got to give major props to Charlie Plummer for his portrayal of his character, Adam. Adam starts off as a fresh-faced confident teen but by the end of the film looks run down, with big bags around his eyes and is lacking confidence. It really showed the toll of the illness, the medication to treat it and the effects it can have on the body. Plummer’s acting is spot on, together with Taylor Russell as Maya, they share great believable chemistry on-screen.
Taylor Russell did a great job of depicting the smart, confident and bubbly school girl, Maya. One that seemed to get along with everyone, but was hiding her own secrets from Adam too, and you could see a big shift in her character once Adam discovers these secrets. This is the first role I’ve seen Russell in and was immensely impressed by her acting. I will be going back to check out some of her previous works and will keep an eye out for her in the future.
I must admit my expectations were low when I heard of this teen romcom, I was expecting the usual teen romance tropes with poorly depicted characters and development, but I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong. Words on Bathroom Walls has great depth, draws you in and makes you feel for the characters. Crying at their lows and cheering them on at their highs. It’s a roller coaster of emotion and tackles the tough topic of mental health and love head on. It isn’t all serious doom and gloom, however, as Words on Bathroom Walls also has a great balance of drama and comedy to lighten the mood whilst still keeping you invested in its story.
Words on Bathroom Walls will be in cinemas Australia-wide from December 10th.