You’ve probably heard about one of the only new movies to come out in theaters recently, Words on Bathroom Walls (2020). Not only is this one of the only new films out in theaters as they slowly reopen, but the film itself tells a story that we haven’t really seen before. While mental health stories are slowly but surely getting more coverage in the media and in film, a majority of them center on mental health issues. Movies like It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010) and To The Bone (2017) show depression and anorexia nervosa (respectively), but each of these films takes place in a rehabilitation or mental health center. While it’s important to note that films such as these have helped to start conversations about mental health in the media, it’s also important to note that there’s a lot of work to be done for mental health stories.
Words on Bathroom Walls takes a new approach to films centered around a character with mental illness. The main character, Adam (Charlie Plummer) is diagnosed with schizophrenia. He changes schools in an attempt to live a more “normal” life and to keep his mental illness secret from his peers. The film doesn’t take place in a mental health center or a rehabilitation center; instead, it takes place in the outside world, following Adam’s journey through his senior year of high school. The film focuses partially on his mental health, but, unlike other films of this nature, Adam is living in the outside world and doing things that are often depicted in typical high school movies, like going to class or falling in love.
Worldwide, 1% of the population lives with schizophrenia, but one in four people will be diagnosed with some form of a mental health issue. As we continue to end the stigma against mental health and start to have these conversations with our friends and family, it’s important that the media reflects those conversations, too. This film is revolutionary in both the fight to end the stigma against mental health and the recent push to tell the stories of previously unheard voices in our society.
The film is based on a novel (same title) by Julia Walton and published in 2017. The book is available for purchase on Amazon.
Feature Image Credit: YouTube