Portable Hell: “Words on Bathroom Walls”

Brad Miner | August 19, 2020

“The mind,” wrote John Milton in Paradise Lost, “is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” Perhaps nobody knows that better than people suffering from schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia has been a popular subject for books – and for films based upon those books – and often good for an actor portraying the person suffering from the disorder. To cite just three such films: The Snake Pit (1948), Anatole Litvak’s version of a true story, starring Olivia de Havilland in an Academy Award-nominated performance; Ingmar Bergman’s Through a Glass Darkly (1961 – an original story), which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film and wide acclaim for Harriet Andersson’s performance; and A Beautiful Mind (2001), Ron Howard’s Best Picture winner at the Oscars for which Russell Crowe received a Best Actor nomination. There are dozens of other films, many more if violence is brought into the picture. Your typical movie slasher is “schizoid.”

Most schizophrenics, of course, are not violent. Nearly all hear voices, and some experience visual hallucinations as well. Such is the case with Adam, a teenager in Thor Freudenthal’s compelling new movie Words on Bathroom Walls.

Psychiatrists and other healthcare professionals often express dismay, as well they should, at the way schizophrenia is portrayed on screen. Because Words on Bathroom Walls is just out, I’ve come across no such criticism of it, although I suspect there will be, principally because the voices Adam hears are visually manifest as people in the film.


Click here to read the rest of Mr. Miner’s review at The Catholic Thing . . .


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