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I had not heard much about "The Glass House", besides unfavorable reviews by critics, who claimed it was a ridiculous display of unintentional humor. However, when I came across it casually on HBO, I was immensely surprised and impressed!
The story was gripping and I loved the character development - which is so rare in thrillers today. I thought the cast was brilliant, especially Diane Lane and Stellan Skarsgard. Stellan's character was completely chilling, and he played it so effectively. And Diane's character was also wonderfully displayed - despite her terrible actions at times, you can't help but empathize with her a bit, due to Diane's emotional investment in the role. And Trevor Morgan (who I also recently saw in "A Rumor of Angels") is sure to do very well on the big screen for years to come... he's very good for such a young kid. And Leelee Sobieski... she was weak at times, but I felt that she was perfect for the part. She has kind of an authentic look to her and she was casted very well for the part. She had on-screen appeal without being too obnoxiously cutsie. She did a fair job, certainly enough to fulfil the director's vision of the movie - I'm sure of that.
As far as the story goes, it's got everything you could want in a thriller. There were some holes, but some of my favorite movies of all-time have holes and I think it's really too much to ask for a perfect film. But it's downfall was that at times it was a bit predictable - but for me, that only enhanced the movie's suspense.
I greatly enjoyed this movie and I think you will too. I'll agree with the critics that there are some technical flaws in some of the story's details - but over all, the story was very compelling and told VERY well, great development of it's characters and all the events were portrayed very believably, the director definitely kept the audience's trust and attention. So, I recommend it - despite the critic's bashing of the film. Personally, as a teenager, I thought the portrayal of LeeLee's high school was very realistic and so that definitely caught my attention in a good way. Little things like that, that are usually not apparent in most movies today, certainly made up for other little flaws. So, go catch it on HBO or rent it! It's good!
You might initially be reluctant to give 'The Glass House' a try if
you've been turned off by many recent "thrillers" as they often have
been disappointingly by the book. This is your eerie psychotic chase
thriller similar to movies like 'Pacific Heights' and 'Unlawful Entry.'
And, though it does play by the rules (unforutnately), there is
something about it that makes it more entertaining than the recent
dismal fare (not that Pacific Heights wasn't highly entertaining).
Leelee Sobieski plays Ruby Baker, a kid going through the terrible teens. When she and her brother's parents die in a car accident, they move in with ultra-modern family friends, Terry and Erin Glass. You know right from the start that there is something dreadfully suspicious and exceedingly bizarre about the Glass couple, but you can never be too sure exactly what at first (that's the purpose of a thriller, to throw you a few hints and let your quick assumptions guide you into all the wrong paths so that you're--hopefully--pleasantly surprised when the real perpetrator and his motives are revealed). But, Ruby Baker is a smart kid who's ever-present skepticism about the intentions of her new surrogate parents, and starts trying to figure out what's wrong. Unfortunately, this movie does terribly follow the book when it comes to the main character being disbelieved by other well-meaning characters (social workers, lawyers, teachers, etc.) who consequently pay with their lives for their doubts and unwillingness to really investigate, and in turn, making things worse for poor Ruby. It also follows the book when it comes to the deranged finale and the he's-not-really dead ending.
But, there is something that makes this better than most of its kind. On the one hand, you're never sure whether you can always trust Ruby because even she, too, arrogant most of the time, seems like trouble. It's hard to sympathize for a character like that at first. And, not only does Stellan Skarsgård make an appropriate villain as Terry Glass, his wife (played by Diane Lane) is not entirely an innocent creature herself as most women are often written to be in the role of the creep's wife/girlfriend/mother, etc. A good mix of characters and a creepy setting, combined with a decent finale, make it just the perfect mix of suspenseful elements. And one that I would recommend seeing.
Having seen many thrillers, most of them being formulaic, I was somewhat excited to see this one, since it has a pretty good cast; Stellan Skarsgård, Leelee Sobieski & Diane Lane. The plot does, admittedly have some holes, but these newer thrillers are rarely(read: never) perfect. All things considered, it wasn't a disappointment, as I didn't have that high expectations. The plot is OK, fairly see-through and obvious though, but it does have some twists that I(even though I may be alone on this) wasn't expecting. The acting isn't anything special, but at least Skarsgård and Sobieski both pull of decent performances. The characters are reasonably well-written, none of them come off as one-dimensional stereotypes, even though some of them, in all honesty, more or less are. The script is fairly well-written, though it does have its share of cliches, but most films do, anyway. All in all, a fair addition to the thriller genre, nothing that will stay in your mind for a long while after seeing it. It will, however, most likely keep your interest for the duration of the film, and keep you entertained, too. I recommend it to fans of thrillers, it would help to be a fan of at least one of the actors, and it doesn't hurt to have reasonably low standards or expectations. 6/10
THE GLASS HOUSE / (2001) *** (out of four)
By Blake French:
"The Glass House" takes place in a beautiful, luxurious glass mansion complete with swimming pools, expensive artwork, high-tech security systems, and just about everything else. The wealthy occupants, Terry and Erin Glass (Stellan Skarsgard and Diane Lane), become legal guardians of sixteen-year old Rudy (Leelee Sobieski) and eleven-year old Rhett (Trevor Morgan), when the kids' parents die in an automobile accident.
Terry and Erin were the best friends of the children's parents. They welcome their new guests into a world of wealth, glamour, and fun. Soon enough, however, Rudy notices strange quirks about these seemingly friendly folks. Is Terry secretly watching Rudy change her clothes? Is Erin addicted to prescription drugs, or is she a diabetic? Was her parents' death an accident, or a diabolical act of murder? Trust becomes as transparent as the glass surrounding this family.
"The Glass House" opened to mostly negative reviews, and not without probable cause. The setup provides an intriguing, imaginative situation, but everything happens so quickly the film forgets character introduction. First time-feature director Daniel Sackheim helms a hole-laden script by Wesley Strick that creates more plot holes than Swiss cheese. The film derives into involving material, but lacks the focus to play out these plot points.
While Daniel Sackheim and Wesley Strick create a movie that lacks the timeliness and intelligence of a first-rate, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride, "The Glass House" does offer good suspense and a plot that reveals itself with tantalizing sinister hints and increasing tension. It keeps us guessing, even if this diabolical fairy tale is anything but surprising.
Leelee Sobieski has been in a lot of movies lately, and that's not a coincidence. She is a very talented actress, and she carries "The Glass House" through many plot miscalculations. Trevor Morgan, seen in "Jurassic Park 3," adequately supports Sobieski's thorough, convincing performance. The very gifted Diane Lane and Stellan Skarsgard cover their sinister motives with pretentious personalities, but inject a mysterious, menacing undercurrent.
"The Glass House" also provides a fresh, unique outlook on villains. Instead of causing trouble, these characters get themselves into trouble, which eventually makes them dangerous. Innovative, original twists like these are what make this movie worth a look. They say those who live in glass houses should not throw stones, but the villains in "The Glass House" do, and it's only a matter of time before everything shatters and breaks apart. It's quite involving watching these events come about, especially through a character driven story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
On the whole, this is a fairly predictable suspense/thriller with the
expected twists and turns thrown in to try to throw the viewer off and
keep us guessing, but in reality there was really only one plot point
that I was really guessing about (revolving around the estate lawyer
and where and to whom his loyalties really were) and that particular
plot point wasn't really at the heart of the story. The movie
introduces Ruby (Leelee Sobieski) as a bit of a troubled kid, whose
troubles become much more complicated when her parents are killed in a
car accident, and she and her brother are sent to live with the Glass
family - friends of their parents (played by Stellan Skarsgard and
Diane Lane.) And, yes, the Glasses live in a house that seems to have a
lot of glass - too cute by a longshot.
The suspense is around the Glasses. What are they up to? They haven't been especially close to Ruby's parents in recent years, and there's a certain creepiness to them (and especially to Skarsgard's Terry) right from the start. That builds to the point where the Glasses become downright dangerous to the kids. However, there really isn't much mystery about what the Glasses want. (It's revealed fairly quickly that the kids have a large trust fund and that Terry needs money to pay off a loanshark he's in trouble with.) So there's no real suspense around motive, and you pretty much know that although it's going to be a rough ride the kids are going to end up OK (because they always do in this kind of movie.) So the story isn't really that compelling. The performances (mostly from Sobieski, Skarsgard and Lane) are decent, but I didn't think anyone in the cast was truly outstanding.
Two things worked really well in the movie. Director Daniel Sackheim did a good job of gradually turning the Glasses from just a creepy couple into a dangerous couple. (At first, Terry's interest in the 16 year old Ruby was truly creepy - it seemed physical more than financial, a suggestion that was let go of fairly quickly in favour of the financial motive.) The other thing that worked well was the setting in the house. Yes, the play on words was a bit too cute, but the big house with its somewhat confusing design and all sorts of windows both inside and outside so that the characters (and the viewer) could often catch a glimpse of what was going on was effective. But, still, a suspense/thriller that's almost entirely predictable and that therefore has no real "edge of your seat" moments can't be considered truly good. (5/10)
The trailer tells you that the Glass family is evil. The movies tries to
play with you for the first 30 minutes or so, letting you think that maybe
it's just a misunderstanding, but the movie's not really about "are they or
aren't they?" it's clear that they are.
We are meant to sympathize with young Ruby (Leelee Sobieski) because she is the underdog and no one believes her, even when we, the audience, know she is telling the truth. The script seems rather sloppy. There is an attempt at justifying Terry Glass's (Stellan Skarsgärd) evil by putting him in conflict with someone more evil than him. All this serves to do is dilute the main conflict and at times make you almost sympathize with Terry. I had to remind myself "oh yeah, the guy committed murder."
After being seen in the beginning, Ruby's friends have a single scene in the middle where they talk about having not heard from her but then are never heard from again. Why? Why was this scene here? So we wouldn't wonder what happened to them? Or to answer the question the screenwriter thought we might be asking "why haven't they tried to get in touch with her and/or why hasn't Ruby confided in them?" either way, the scene only reminds of them when we hadn't been thinking of them and highlights their absence for the remainder of the film.
"The Glass House" does have some suspenseful moments but taken as a whole, there are simply to many contrived moments and people doing stupid things because they have to to further the plot to make this a truly enjoyable or worthwhile thriller. Not an utter waste of 2 hours but you can do better.
I turned this on and immediately started looking for something that
would start in a half hour. I did not expect to be interested, but I
couldn't stop watching.
Ruby (Leelee Sobieski) and Rhett (Trevor Morgan) lose their parents in a terrible car accident, and the Glasses, Terry (Stellan Skarsgård) and Erin (Diane Lane), take them in. Everything appears normal, Erin is a doctor, and Terry runs a big business, drives a Jag, and they live in a huge house. But everything isn't as it seems or we would have no movie.
Ruby starts to get suspicious about things she sees and hears, and the attempts of Terry to explain them seem to mollify her for a time. However, she finds things that are definitely wrong, and makes plans to escape with her brother.
This is where the thriller begins: car chases, and fights, and death and duplicity. It definitely kept my interest, and I suspect it will keep yours.
very predictable movie. Sobieski played a good part, very good actress but not very well placed in this film actually too good an actress for this film. Skarsgard played a good but predictable bad guy, and Lane an obvious junkie. that god i only rented this film not worth buying. a house on haunted hill/13 ghosts film with the house, but not with the quality of the film. sad but sorry 2*
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An egregious piece of commercial trash, uninspired and soulless.
Leelee Sobieski is a 16-year-old whose wealthy parents were just killed in a traffic "accident." She and her younger brother are handed over to the only guardians available -- Stellan Skarsgard and his wife Diane Lane. But mischief is afoot. The guardians owe an enormous amount of money to the mob and intend to cheat Sobieksi and her brother out of the four million bucks in the trust fund. They'll kill the kids if necessary. After all, it turns out, they engineered the parents' car so as to disable it, disposing of the parents and leaving the two kids as helpless orphans. Something like that.
Leelee Sobieski, I kind of like. Her acting talents may be modest but at least they exist. And her features are memorable -- those plump cheeks, that tiny mouth whose upper lip is chevron shaped, and those startling blue Tartar eyes. She reminds me of Dee Dee Myers, the former adviser to President Clinton. Dee Dee, Leelee. Might they not be one and the same person? True, I am nervous. Very, very nervous, but why WILL you call me mad? Let me put it this way. Have you ever seen the two of them in the same room at the same time? I thought not. Stellan Skarsgard is always dependable, and sometimes more than that. The other performers fade into the woodwork.
It's the plot that sinks this attempt at a chiller. There isn't a single instant that doesn't make a viewer feel that, somewhere, some time, he's seen this before. (And he has.) It incorporates every cliché in the formula.
I'll give just one example. Skarsgard is making a private, incriminating phone call late at night in his Malibu mansion. Sobieski is downstairs in the kitchen. She picks up the second phone and pushes "Listen." She accidentally makes a slight noise. Skarsgard hears it and begins to creep suspiciously toward the kitchen, but Sobieski doesn't know he's heard. Closer and closer. Cross-cutting between the scowling Skarsgard with the phone to his ear and the unsuspecting wide-eyed Sobieski behind the kitchen door. Skarsgard reaches the door. Sobieski yanks her head around. Skarsgard flings the door open. No Sobieski. She's darted away just in time.
This sort of thing goes on and on. In the climactic auto chase, Skarsgard rams through a wall and his Jaguar rolls down a cliff and smashes to pieces.
I glanced gratefully heavenward -- at least they'd managed to avoid the ritual of the corpse leaping back to life. But, no. While Sobieski and her brother sit alone in their silent car on the highway, the shockingly bloodied Skarsgard staggers through the hole in the wall with the intent of killing the two children. You know what I want to be when I grow up? One of the heavies in a horror movie. They never die. They take a beating but keep on ticking.
If you've never seen a movie before -- if you've never HEARD of movies -- you'll probably find this one engaging.
I apologize for the pun, I could not resist myself. This film was
recommended to me by a friend, and I had never heard of it, so I could
not really say what I was expecting. What I received though was a
smart, intense, fun, excellently executed thriller with wonderful
performances that entertains from beginning to end.
Leelee Sobieski brings to her character, Ruby Baker, depth and likablity without even having to apply much effort to it. Stellan Skarsgård and Diane Lane are great as the Terrence and Erin Glass, and even Trevor Morgan gives a nice performances as Ruby's younger brother, Rhett Baker. The performances are part of what is effective with this movie. Everyone delivered their lines and completed scenes with finesse, even if they weren't Oscar worthy presentations and they created the atmosphere that the director was trying to set perfectly.
The film is not boring at all and it's not mediocre as a lot of reviews suggest. It has a nice, suspenseful build up and the material, while the gist is a bit overused, is fresh in it's own way. Who says an unoriginal plot has to bad? Is that a written rule? The plot is simply marvelous in this film, if you ask me. I enjoyed so much seeing how the twist in the film starts to slowly unravel piece by piece, because I liked the characters and was interested in the story from the get go. The movie almost trips on it's own feet a couple of times, but nothing seriously major that is worth noting keeps you from enjoying the fun and satisfaction the film brings. I even was extremely fond of the setting, and for those of you who say it's an overrated pun with the Glasses living in a house mostly made of glass, there are horror classics throughout history that work off puns much cornier, and The Glass House does it very well, stop complaining.
In any matter, as I have said, The Glass House is non-stop fun and excitement from beginning to end with delightful and even memorable performances (i.e.: Leelee Sobieski, who indeed gives the finest performance of all, and probably the finest of her career in general), an intense and realistic atmosphere, relentless build up and a twist that I honestly could not see coming. I loved it and had an amazing time watching it! It was a riveting, effective, astonishing accomplishment in my book.
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