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The Glass Castle
DVD + Blu-ray
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Based on the worldwide best-selling memoir starring Academy Award® winner Brie Larson and Academy Award® nominees Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts, THE GLASS CASTLE chronicles the adventures of an eccentric, resilient, tight-knit family.
An all-star cast shines in this inspiring film based on THE NEW YORK TIMES best-selling memoir. Jeannette (Oscar® winner Brie Larson) had a poor but wildly adventurous childhood, raised by her free-spirited father (Oscar® nominee Woody Harrelson) and her mother (Oscar® nominee Naomi Watts), an eccentric artist. But when her father's behavior become erratic, Jeannette must find the courage to live on her own terms in this uplifting story of unconditional love.
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The film switches back and forth between Jeannette as an adult (Brie Larson) living in New York working as a gossip columnist, and engaged to the pleasant David (Max Greehfield), and her childhood spent crossing America with her family crammed into a station wagon as debt collectors and police pursue the Walls family from one town to the next.
Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts portray Rex and mom Rose Mary. Alcoholic Rex is a manipulative con man who’s never escaped his personal demons. Rose Mary is a manic, passionate artist whose devotion to her work has resulted in negligence toward her kids.
The movie is strangely non-committal about the terrible upbringing Jeannette and her siblings underwent. Rex is a thoroughly unpleasant, irresponsible father who fails to place his children’s welfare first. Yet director Destin Daniel Cretton settles for whitewashing this neglectful relationship in favor of fuzzy platitudes about family. He simply avoids depicting the situation as ugly and thoughtless as it was, suggesting that Rex may have suffered as a child and presenting Jeannette and siblings as eventually forgiving him. This is a copout, considering the information we are given about the degree of the parents’ abysmal parenting skills.
The book may have illustrated a more gradual coming to terms by Walls with her father, but the movie sets out to show a childhood of neglect and lack of stability, and then glosses over the horrors we’ve witnessed to show a magical forgiveness. This is both emotionally and dramatically unsatisfactory.
Bonus materials on the 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include deleted scenes; a conversation with Jeannette Walls; a discussion about adapting the poem ‘Summer Storm’ into a song; and the featurettes “The Glass Castle: Memoir to Movie” and “Scoring The Glass Castle.” A digital HD copy is included.
TGC is based on an autobiography of Jeannette Walls / biography of the family she was born into, particularly of her father Rex (and no, I have not read the book, nor have I seen Capt. Fantastic yet). I think you will get the most impact if you read the book only after seeing the movie. The movie is far better than I expected. Marvelously wrought, with excellent screenplay, direction, editing, music, cinematography and luminous performances from the actors. Harrelson, Larson, Watts (remember her delirious turn in the hallucinatory Mulholland Drive?), as well as the younger actors (particularly Ella Anderson) who play the young versions of the children, will enthrall you with their convincing performances. The rest of the cast are also excellent in their roles, particularly the actors playing the grandma and the fiance. Who knew that the young actor we watched all those many years ago, polishing beer-glasses at a bar where everybody knew your name, would turn out to be one of the finest actors/actresses of his generation? Some way into the movie, the story lets you predict where the movie is headed, but I still did not see the resolution coming. This is film-making at its finest (in its family drama genre), although the real-life story on which it is based contributes much to the emotional impact. Family dysfunction indeed. This is a nuanced portrait of a man of convictions (flawed or not), tilting at windmills (or are they really giants?), struggling with (metaphorical) demons, and of his relationships with his wife and kids, particularly the one between him and Jeannette. The real-life footage as the credits roll was quite moving. Even if you believe you have a bulletproof jaded heart, this movie will shatter your glass heart, then melt the pieces back into a beating whole.
The acting by everybody is absolutely superb and deserves nothing less than 5 stars! If this doesn't get an Academy nod, then there's definitely something wrong with the academy.