THE GLASS CASTLE
SYNOPSIS: Chronicling the adventures of an eccentric, resilient and tight-knit family, THE GLASS CASTLE is a remarkable story of unconditional love. Oscar® winner Brie Larson brings Jeannette Walls’s best-selling memoir to life as a young woman who, influenced by the joyfully wild nature of her deeply dysfunctional father (Woody Harrelson), found the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
REVIEW: In the beginning of this movie we find little 3 year old Jeanette hungry and fixing to make hotdogs over a gas stove as her heavily pregnant mother, Rose Mary(Naomi Watts), is creating one of her many masterpieces. Needless to say, she burns herself pretty seriously and when she is in the hospital being asked questions by the doctor and social worker, she tells them that it’s ok, that she was cooking because she always cooks for herself and her siblings.
This might sound like some crazy scene only a screen writer could come up with but it was Jeanette Walls real life childhood and the memoir from which this film was written. Jeanette’s dad Rex (Woody Harrelson) is a peripatetic dreamer who truly adores his family. He dreams big dreams for his little nomadic crew but never seems to deliver as he deals with the demons of depression and alcoholism. His wife Rose Marie is averse to housework and responsibility and so their 4 children must grow up through hardship and hunger mixed with adventure and whimsy. The parents are irresponsible and while their kids are young, they are heroes and inspire awe in them, but at a pivotal time the children realize that they must take care of themselves because their parents aren’t fit to do so. The movie relies heavily on flashbacks from this Appalachian childhood to Jeanette’s life in the 80’s as a successful, sophisticated gossip columnist for The New Yorker. Jeanette is engaged to a brilliant stock broker and enjoys a
life style that includes a Park Avenue apartment and dinners with clients at high class restaurants. She stays close to her siblings who also live in New York. One day as she is riding a cab home she sees a homeless woman going through trash and a crazy looking old man yelling “what are you looking at?” She looks away when she recognizes that they are her very own parents.
I need to let you know that this film will be an emotional rollercoaster. You see the dim sadness of children and ultimately adults, dealing with a their bi-polar dreamer of a dad and their responsibility averse mom that even in the face of her children going hungry, cannot bring herself to leave. You will also experience forgiveness and joy in the knowledge that they were loved.
I walked out of this film emotionally drained. I recently lost my own father and have to say that I saw a lot of him in Rex Walls. My dad was so brilliant, you cannot imagine how brilliant. Rex was so incredibly intelligent that he taught his children astronomy, science and drew plans for the titular glass castle he was always revising and promising to build. My dad was coming up with inventions up to the very end, just as Rex always had something he could put together from nothing. My dad made me believe I was important. There is a scene where Rex tells Jeanette who seeing her burn scars for the first time tells her daddy, they are ugly. Rex tells her that unlike most people “We have fire in our bellies!”
Woody Harrelson is truly one of the best working actors out there, not doubt. He makes you love him, hate him and feel sorry for him. Brie Larson is amazing as the grown up Jeanette. You believe through her expressions and at times lack of sentiment that she is the real Jeanette Walls. Naomi Watts plays the dreamer mom so very well. I feel that I must also mention Ella Anderson as a young Jeanette. You believe her when she is disappointed in her father, you cry with her when she is truly angry at him for promising things he cannot deliver and joy in the good times.
Some out there will tell you that the book was better and maybe it is but I feel that this film is raw and true to the story and so worth going to see.
Review By Priscilla
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