Words on Bathroom Walls – Adam Freudenthal and His Unique Voice
An intelligent and introspective teenager keeps his schizophrenia hidden from those at school while dealing with its voices that haunt him.
Though its approach to Adam’s symptoms may seem cliched, the film also shows how mental illness deserves just as much empathy and support as cancer does.
Early Life and Education
Thor Freudenthal first encountered Julia Walton’s Words on Bathroom Walls two years ago while reviewing advance copies of upcoming young adult novels. “It stood out,” Freudenthal recalls, and credits Adam’s unique voice as one of the main draws to adapting it for film.
Freudenthal’s film doesn’t shy away from depicting Adam’s emotions and symptoms as they shift, while simultaneously reminding viewers that mental illnesses deserve just as much kindness and humanity as other diseases – like cancer or heart disease. One scene shows Adam commenting on how more tolerance and sympathy is shown toward teenagers with cancer than those suffering from schizophrenia.
Winthrop Close Up is a weekly newscast produced by Winthrop University’s Advanced Journalism and Broadcast Production classes. Episodes feature topics like religious groups speaking out about their beliefs, vandalism on campus, construction updates and Red Cross Blood Drives.
Two years ago, director Thor Freudenthal was flipping through advance copies of books when he came across Julia Walton’s soon-to-be published young adult novel Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton. Freudenthal found the story remarkable for its focus on an individual dealing with schizophrenia as they navigate through teenage life.
Immediate thought went to turning it into a movie, so he approached screenwriter Nick Naveda who immediately “loved” it as well as approached others who shared his vision.
Charlie Plummer stars as Adam in this film and gives an outstanding performance that conveys all his emotions and symptoms accurately. Plummer adeptly navigates between being dry, alarmed, caustic, mortal, wryly funny and confused throughout Adam’s psychotic episode depiction – it was truly convincing and moving; reminding audiences that people with mental illness deserve equal consideration as others.
Achievement and Honors
An intelligent and introspective teenager is diagnosed with mental illness midway through his senior year of high school and must keep it hidden from both friends and classmates. Meanwhile, he develops feelings for a brilliant classmate who encourages him not to let his condition define who he is.
Freudenthal holds many achievements and honors to his name, with his biography available in 20 different languages on Wikipedia.
As a musician, composer and arranger who specializes in Klezmer and Jazz music he currently forms part of Freudenthal Yiddish Orchestra band as well as receiving commissions to compose music for various venues including Jewish Museum in Stockholm Sweden. Additionally he hosts Winthrop Close Up weekly newscast about University.
Freudenthal was familiar with many of the worlds his movie explores having grown up in a musical Jewish family and being an accomplished clarinet player at numerous Bar Mitzvahs; additionally he studied architecture, biblical Hebrew, history and Jewish philosophy – and continued performing clarinet concerts at Jewish events.
Freudenthal was working as a screenwriter on Dreamworks’ Sky High when he came across Julia Walton’s book Words on Bathroom Walls about a teenage boy’s struggle to come to terms with his schizophrenia diagnosis. Freudenthal immediately “loved it,” and set about adapting it for cinema.
Adam attempts to keep his illness a secret from Maya, who urges him to go to prom. Unfortunately, as the evening progresses, Adam’s visions become increasingly disturbing and he eventually is sent to a psych ward, where Sister Catherine and Father Patrick visit him regularly.