Movie Review: The Glass Castle

Movie Review: The Glass Castle
Before I saw a screening of The Glass Castle, I knew it was based upon a book - however, for some reason, I thought the book was a fiction novel, so imagine my surprise when I realized it's nonfiction. The Glass Castle has a fantastic cast, which helps bring this novel to life, and now I want to read the book.

Jeannette (Brie Larson) has recently become engaged, to David (Max Greenfield), who works in finance. When they go out to dinner with his clients, she talks about how her father works with electricity, and how her mother is a painter; what she doesn't mention is, although technically they do both of these things, they're also homeless, and she saw them downtown the other night sifting through garbage. Through flashbacks, we see Jeannette and her siblings' childhood, and how her father (Woody Harrelson) was an alcoholic, and couldn't hold down a job. Her mother, Rose Mary (Naomi Watts), was a great painter, but never actually sold any paintings. Because of this, Jeannette's family was very poor, as well as transient—they moved from house to house, often squatting, until they finally moved back to her father's hometown, where they rented a house for $50 a week.

Despite all this, Jeannette and her parents are very close, even though her parents accuse her of being "fancy" now - which, she basically is: she dresses very nicely, she's engaged to a rich/well-off man, and she has been trying to put her childhood behind her. Her story, told in both flashbacks and present-day moments, is an unusual one; however, she can't seem to separate herself from her parents, especially now that they're all living in NYC.

This movie was excellent. I'm a huge fan of Woody Harrelson in general, and he was fantastic here as Rex Walls, the patriarch of the family—you can't paint him to be a villain, because he had a good heart, but at the same time, his family often went hungry because he couldn't hold down a job, and was an alcoholic. The mother (played by Naomi Watts) was just as complicit, because she stayed with him even though she knew these tendencies, and both characters were very layered. Jeannette, the second oldest of four children, was very close with her dad, and when her oldest sister started plotting her escape from the household, Jeannette did too, albeit with a heavy heart, it seemed.

Yes, see this film. I have not read the book upon which it's based—a memoir, by Jeannette Walls—but I plan to now, at some point. I would have given this movie 5 out of 5 stars, but it does drag at times, and it could have been made shorter than its 2 hours and 7 minutes runtime, in my opinion, which is what knocks its rating down to 4.5 out of 5 stars. If you're a fan of coming-of-age stories or family dramas, you'll definitely want to check out The Glass Castle - but really, I recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good story.

The Glass Castle is in theaters today, August 11th, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 127 minutes. 4.5 stars out of 5.

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