The Glass Castle
Drama, Biography
IMDB rating:
Destin Cretton
Chandler Head as Youngest Jeannette
Eden Grace Redfield as Youngest Maureen
Iain Armitage as Youngest Brian
Sadie Sink as Young Lori
Shree Crooks as Young Maureen
Charlie Shotwell as Young Brian
Ella Anderson as Young Jeannette
Sarah Snook as Lori
Josh Caras as Brian
Brie Larson as Jeannette
Naomi Watts as Rose Mary
Storyline: A young girl comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who's an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children's imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty.

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Dysfunctionlal family sometimes functioning
Actually 8 1/2 in my opinion. Well acted film with the father a dreamer and battler rolled up in one person sometimes Dr. Jeckyl, sometimes Mr Hyde. A socialist, though not branded as such,though this is a minor aspect of the film. When I read a summary of the book the film is based on, there was no mention made of the man that the daughter who went to New york and became a writer (and the author of the memoir the movie was based on) met and I think that maybe he would have been better left out of the movie, too, as superfluous, and not needed as a nerdy foil to the father priding himelf on his (would-be) manliness.update: later someone told me was in book, so much for my movie revision. The artit- wife in real life was a doctor. So much for art imitating life.
Defining film in father-daughter relationships and parents neglecting their children
"The Glass Castle" is an American English-language film from this year (2017) directed by Hawaiian filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton and he also adapted the novel for the screen here. It's not the first time he worked with Oscar winner Brie Larson, who plays the central character here. And she proves once more without a doubt that she is among the very finest from her age group in Hollywood now. But still, this is without a doubt Woody Harrelson's film here and the only thing in doubt is if he should win the Oscar for supporting or lead. His character is somewhat similar to Viggo Mortensen's Captain Fantastic and also he has as much of an impact as Arquette in Boyhood and if these two were getting such a great deal of recognition, then so should he as it was simply an amazing portrayal here.

Let me add that I have not read the novel, so my review is entirely based on the film and I cannot comment on parallels and differences compared to the book. But I can say that the book must be amazing to be as good as these slightly over 2 hours we have here. The film is by far the best of 2017 by now and that means especially something as I have seen a lot from this year already and I cannot agree with the mixed reception at all. It is close to a masterpiece. The actors are all good, even the dude from New Girl is tolerable this time. Harrelson is the great standout though and I see he has 2 films in the race this year and it is really high time he gets his Oscar. Very overdue. As for the film itself, it may not be a dominant player this awards season if I see the reception and also because people will say it is the specific story of one family, but irrelevant in the grand picture. This may be true, the first part, but I think they could not be any more wrong about the second. There's important subjects like coming-of-age, alcoholism, father-daughter relationships, husband-wife relationships, sexual abuse, criminal negligence and many others in here and yet the film never feels rushed or for the sake of it, but more like an in-depth examination of these issues that is always satisfying.

Everybody will think something else about the subplots and it will depend on your history how much you will connect with each of these. But I think that there is something in here for everybody and even as a neutral observer, it will be tough not to appreciate the film. This is also due to the great attention to detail. Just one example from near the end: The moment the central character stands still before entering her dad's room one last time because she does(n't) know what expects her at the other side of the door. Harrelson raises the bar to a spectacular level for future performances of loving dads whose approach to life and whose own demons keep them from being the parent their children need them to be. This film's raw authenticity, the characters' imperfection as well as many heartbreaking moments turn this onto one of the very best films of the 2010s. Don't trust the critics talking down on it. This is my Best Picture winner of 2017 at this point and you really need to see it because it is so good and you have a lot more to gain than to lose here. Chances are almost zero you will hate it, but they are good that you will totally love it. So much heart in here and it never drags despite comfortably crossing the 2-hour mark. Go get that Oscar Woody.
It's never too late to have a happy childhood.
9/3/17. This movie is worth watching because you never know what kind of damage someone has been through when you first meet them. It could be a truly horrendous childhood someone is running away from and they can be still dealing with the damage. This is a movie about self- discovery as Larson is the grown-up Jeannette Walls who never took the time to objectively assess her childhood's impact on her life. Then again, who among us ever has? Hers was just a miserable life of neglect by an alcoholic father and a mother who escaped life through painting. Her pain is compounded by her constant disappointment over her father's promises that he could never seem to keep. But, when she got over her anger and disappointment she was finally able to accept herself as she really was. So, it's true, it's never too late to have a happy childhood. Catch it. I hope Naomi Watts gets nominated for an Oscar and win it - it's her time.
Makes your family seem normal
If Woody Harrelson plays his cards right he has a great chance for a supporting actor award. Brie Larson and kids of various ages do good work. The kids age, Harrelson not so much.

The movie based on a book is too long. It starts to drag and like most alcoholic movies becomes predictable and redundant. The movie is extremely dialogue driven. A couple scenes stand out and give an indication of how much better this could have been. Arm wrestling and mom out the window add some zip to the story that you know how will end.

There's the over the credits clips of the real people. Casting made everyone look better. It's a small movie that doesn't need to be seen on the big screen. Good performances make it worth watching in the comfort of your home.
Horrific child neglect story told with a light tone
There is a voyeuristic element that keeps the viewer watching this fascinating story. Two loving parents - an alcoholic father and negligent mother raise their kids in a nomadic vagrant style. The family is close and there is affection but the neglect is horrific. There is a comic tone but the horror is what prevails. The way the kids pulled through is amazing.

Woody is perfect for the insane father. Naomi tries to look disheveled but is still too pretty to be homeless. Brie looks very beautiful in her New York lifestyle. The dramatic confrontation at the end seems a bit contrived.

I haven't read the book so can't say whether it's a good adaptation of the source material. Whatever it is the movie is engrossing.
We all have stories
Greetings again from the darkness. We all have our stories. The stories that make up our life. Some of us dwell on the "bad" things, while others remember only the good times. A few even romanticize the past, which could also be termed embellishment. Where exactly on this scale that Jeannette Walls' story falls is debatable, but the facts are that her life story is the foundation for a best-selling book and now a high-profile movie.

Ms. Walls' memoir describes her unconventional childhood with bohemian parents who cared more for freedom and independence than for feeding their kids. Writer/Director Destin Daniel Cretton (a 'must-follow' filmmaker after his powerful 2013 indie gem SHORT TERM 12) chose this as his next project, co-wrote the screenplay with Andrew Lanham, and wisely opted to work again with Brie Larson, who stars as the oldest Jeannette (from late teens through adult).

The film bounces around in time from Jeannette's childhood in the 1960's and 1970's to her time as a New York gossip columnist in 1989. The timeline isn't all that bounces, as we watch this family of six, seemingly always on the run, ricochet across America with all their belongings strapped to the top of the battered station wagon – usually on the run from creditors or following the latest dream from Rex (Woody Harrelson).

Rex is the type of guy who rants against most everything that makes up what we know as society. He can't (or won't) hold a job and fills his trusting kids' heads with hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow - going as far as drawing up plans and specs for the off-the-grid fantasy home referenced in the title. Rex then spends what little money the dirt poor family has on drinking benders which cause him to become a nasty, abusive threat.

Rex's wife Rose (Naomi Watts) is a free-spirited artist who somehow possesses even fewer parental instincts than her husband. Although she could be labeled an enabler of his abusive ways, she might actually be the more interesting of the two, even if the story (and Jeannette) focuses much more on Rex. The best scene in the movie is when mother and grown daughter share a restaurant booth, and the two worlds collide.

Of course the real story here is how Jeanette managed to rise above this less-than-desirable childhood and achieve her own form of freedom as a writer. The stark contrast between the squalor of her West Virginia shack and the million dollar apartment she later shares with her fiancé (Max Greenfield) makes this the ultimate depiction of the American Dream – pulling yourself up by your bootstraps (even when you don't have boots).

The acting is stellar throughout. Mr. Harrelson could garner Oscar attention as he manages to capture both the dreamer and failure that was Rex. Ms. Watts maximizes her underwritten role and turns Rose into someone we believe we know and (at least partially) understand. Ms. Larson embodies both the desperation of a teenager whose environment forced her to be wise beyond her years, and the iciness of a grown-up trying so hard to leave the past behind. In just a few scenes, Robin Bartlett manages to create a memorable and horrific grandmother – one whose actions explain a great deal. The most remarkable performance of all, however, belongs to Ella Anderson (the only good thing about THE BOSS). She captures our hearts as the adolescent Jeannette – the closest thing to a parent this family had.

There are some similarities between this film and last year's expertly crafted CAPTAIN FANTASTIC. In fact, two of the young actors (Shree Crooks, Charlie Shotwell) from that film also appear in THE GLASS CASTLE. The biggest difference being that Viggo Mortensen's character could be considered to have an over-parenting approach, while Woody Harrelson's Rex never over-did anything, except drink and dream. The movie probably has a bit too much Hollywood gloss and sheen to adequately portray the hardships of a large family living in poverty, though the top notch acting keeps us glued to the screen. By the end, we can't help but wonder if some of Ms. Walls' romanticism of her father and past might be due as much to her immense writing talent as to her childhood challenges.
Cracks appear
This review of The Glass Castle is spoiler free

*** (3/5)

BEFORE BRIE LARSON gained a well-praised Oscar win for her emotionally powerful performance in 2015s Room, she appeared in writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton's second feature 2013's film festival favourite Short Term 12 where she played as Grace a twentysomething supervising staff member of a residential treatment facility. A film which gave her almost unanimous praise from critics and awards alike. After her Oscar she was awarded with blockbuster success in this year's Kong: Skull Island and a chance to play the title role in MCU's Captain Marvel. However before that she returns to Cretton for his latest The Glass Castle.

Based upon Jeanette Walls' best-selling memoirs of the same name we have Larson starring as the grown-up Jeanette, a twentysomething writer working for a magazine in New York meanwhile happily living with her Fiancé (Max Greenfield), however, this soon transpires that she is using this look as a shield to hide away from her dysfunctional childhood. There are a few well-placed flashbacks showing her childhood living with her father, Rex (Woody Harrelson) an illiterate alcoholic who teaches his children the ways of life instead of taking them to school, he tells them stories to stir their imagination as hope for a distraction to their poverty. Her mother Rose (Naomi Watts) is an eccentric artist who much like Rex paints what she sees and instead of looking after her children she tries to paint a masterpiece. This leaves Jeanette, the second eldest child to cook and to clean this leaves her physically scarred. The family are constantly on the move from place-to-place desperately trying to avoid the government and tax payments.

The flashbacks are the films shining light forming most of the story as Cretton directs each form of Jeanette from young child (Chandler Head) through her pre-teen years (Ella Anderson) to Larson's adolescent and adult Jeanette swiftly and smoothly moving his camera along each memory. Whether it's her father promising to do something for her or tearfully listening to one of his stories he captures each of them in glistening form.

Unfortunately some of the flashbacks fail to grasp the imagination of Jeanette Walls' memoirs as a lot of the fail to securely transfer to the grown woman Larson plays in the present which makes her character sadly flawed utterly grading with her performance. Also it's both seemingly too tidy and too messy, and at the same time neither quite wild nor quite sensible enough making it a sadly more forgettable venture in Larson's powerful filmography. That said The Glass Castle is a subtle and utterly sweet drama which just about often enough breathes into raucous life.

VERDICT On the one hand The Glass Castle is a tidy poignant drama with refined performances and on the other it's a flawed tale which often fails to grasp Walls' memories on the screen.
It's garbage
This movie is just a disgusting glorification of rape culture, severe child abuse and neglect, alcoholism, and childhood. Nothing in it's even remotely realistic (it's a move I get it but still) and it's just painful to watch. Not painful as in emotionally gripping but utterly pathetic and ridiculous. I couldn't even make it through to the end, it was that bad. Don't waste your time with this move it's not emotional. It attempts to be "deep" and I bet the smug director thinks he's shedding light on an unseen issue in America, but it's so obscure and has no relevant information whatsoever. If you want to educate yourself, look elsewhere. If you want to be moved, look elsewhere. If your time is valuable, look elsewhere!
A Real, Raw and Riveting Account of a Loving But Troubled Family
(Warning, may contain some spoilers)

I like that the director stayed true to the book by opening with the stove accident because that captured my attention immediately. Told from the adult Jeanette's perspective looking back, the movie version took on a serious tone right away and lost some of what made the book such an addictive (no pun intended) read. When told from a child's perspective, some of the family's experiences seemed truly magical, like spending the night in the desert or dancing in rain puddles during a storm. I also felt a stronger emotional connection to the dad through young Jeanette's idealized view of him and was less able to hate him later when his alcoholism totally spiraled out of control. From the child's perspective, Jeanette's growing realization that her larger than life dad was not so heroic was very potent. The story told by the adult Jeanette was still emotionally powerful, but the present dysfunction gave away the secret of why her parents were so odd and why they kept moving. The fiancé was barely mentioned in the book, but I loved the dynamics between him and the dad in the film. That add-in was very helpful in understanding how Walls came to terms with who she is and where she came from. I wish the other siblings had been more developed. All in all, I liked this adaptation of Walls's touching and disturbing book and hope Woody Harrelson gets an Oscar for his portrayal of Rex Walls.
Bad adaptation of a fantastic book
I read the book just a few weeks before the movie came out so it was still fresh in my mind when I went to see this film. Woody Harrelson was superb as always but the movie really glossed over his character. There was no depth to the movie at all and at times it felt ridiculous and insulting to watch the Hollywood portrayal of these characters, particularly with Naomi Watts. Naomi's make-up and wardrobe were horribly contrived and her acting wasn't much better. She was a bad choice for Rose Mary. The movie changed the order and places of events, skipped about half the book, and threw some important parts in at awkward times just to get them in the movie. They also just plain made stuff up, particularly with the ending.

The movie lost the emotional punch of the book because they omitted everything that was difficult and meaningful. I didn't care about any of the characters and I was so frustrated and bored that I actually got up and left the theater for a few minutes. It was a sugar-coated, feel good mess. My advice, if this plot seems interesting to you, is to read the book and skip the movie. You'll thank me later.
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