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Love for a broken mind

(Roadside Attractions)


Love for a broken mind

Words on Bathroom Walls gives a realistic portrayal of mental illness

Words on Bathroom Walls, a new film based on the book by Julia Walton, takes viewers inside the mind of a teenager diagnosed with arguably the least understood and most stigmatized mental illness: schizophrenia. 

Adam Petrazelli (Charlie Plummer) is a high-school senior when he has his first psychotic episode. It occurs in a classroom, the worst place possible for a teen trying to maintain his popularity. 

Adam’s mom and her live-in boyfriend help him search for a medication that works. To escape social ostracism, Adam transfers to a Catholic school where he meets a plucky valedictorian (Taylor Russell) who treats him like any other crush. Their budding romance is surprisingly tender and pure. (Bad language and some off-color jokes earn a PG-13 rating.)

The film gives a realistic portrayal of the struggle of those with mental illness to find purpose and self-acceptance, as well as the helplessness their loved ones feel as they try to help. It also boasts strong spiritual elements. As Adam tries to hide his illness from friends, a priest befriends him, prays with him, and explains one reason to confess sins: “Admitting our flaws gives us the opportunity to face them.” 

For viewers, Words on Bathroom Walls builds empathy and a desire to pray and care for others facing conditions like Adam’s.