There is a father/son dynamic going on here as well. Walter and his son Porter are at odds. Walter has been guilty of the same thing many middle-aged executives are: being absent in the home. Porter accepts payment to write people’s essays in High School and has a very dysfunctional crush on Norah that winds both of them up in jail for the night for vandalism. One can’t help but wonder if Walter’s condition contributed to his son’s issues.
I really like this movie because it shows that mental illness doesn't have to be just an embarrassment. I am deeply interested in people which probably further adds to my enjoyment — the movie gets into the heart of the family and explores how mental illness permeates it. This film is not for kids, the themes are definitely mature. This is not Braveheart, nor is it Nell. Only through understanding the unknown can we embrace it and make peace with it in our world, Mental illness is largely an unknown in our society. It is good to see Mel Gibson stepping away from his usual action roles to show us what many families and individuals deal with.