Lionsgate The Glass Castle is a reflective emotional dramatic family story that is to the point, direct and hard to comprehend at times. With a solid cast it is one I had been waiting for to land on the big screen. Based on Jeanette Wall’s 2005 New York Times bestseller, Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts star in the film adaptation about an anything-but-normal upbringing in deplorable living conditions. The film tells a father-daughter relationship with grit and takes you into a family’s anything-but-calming existence in extreme poverty as an eye-on-the-wall of how some have been raised and what they have endured and yet come out in life surviving. This is a story of a strong survivor who overcame and managed to get past her rough and tough childhood.
The family’s hippy-style bohemian existence is an interesting ride to watch, although the
shifting of scenes from present day to past, tends to feel lopsided, yet you are captured for the ride, as a fly on the wall to see how some live and how some cope. The movie is filled with darkness but the darkness never quite hits how far it could have gone. Director Destin Daniel Cretton gets great moments out of Harrelson and Watts who play the bohemian parents that forced their four children to manage on their own through
life with a side serving of alcoholism and unconscionable parenting. The film is a look at characters, their flaws and their survival. As you watch, the memories of Jeanette’s poverty-stricken life, played by Oscar winner Larson, and her life in the 80’s. She gives a strong performance butis not on screen enough. The film goes from modern day 1980’s with Jeanette working as a writer at New York Magazine and engaged to a financial analyst but after not speaking to her parents, one day, sees them going through the garbage from a taxi. The film takes us go down memory lane and all is exposed about free-spirited parents who taught their kids to do it themselves, even cook your own hot dogs for lunch. With no money, no electricity, no water, no food, a father who bought alcohol, offered up mood shifts, no job, and a mother who focused on her art so much she left needs of the
children behind including no food in the house for days and always moving to avoid debt collectors.
Plus: Excellent cast. The production design stands out as a winner as you really feel you are there with them all. The other outstanding highlight is Harrelson’s performance which straddles between serious, despicable, careless, and yet lovable at times. This capturing of both sides of a personality is something that few actors can do well but is done so well
by Woody Harrelson most times he steps on screen.
Minus: Way too long to finally reach the emotion/soul of the film. The jumping back and forth from present to past did not flow seamlessly. Scenes jumped. The shifting of time periods made you want to go back to a previous scene. There was a lack of synergistic movement from scene to scene. There are heartbreaking moments but the flashbacks pacing needed better planning. The performances are strong, and the younger actors hold
their own, especially Ella Anderson who plays a young Jeanette. Hair and makeup didn’t seem to age the characters properly especially Jeanette’s
brother and sister’s hair and makeup. The end credits didn’t resemble the people we just watched for 127 minutes so that was odd. As good as moments were, the movie just did not go far enough to show the darkness to the level of the darkness that was this life. Darkness is what resonates and it just needed to go two levels deeper.
Overall: Worth seeing, outstanding cast.
Cast is: Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts, Max Greenfield, Robin Bartlett, Eel Anderson, Sarah
Snook, Chandler Head, Josh Caras, three Grace Crooks, Bridgette Lundy-Pain, Charlie Shotwell, Sadie Sink, Olivia Kate Rice, Iain Ermitage, Eden Gace
Redfield, Joew Pingue, Domenic Bogart and AJ Henderson.
PG - 13.