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proniomj12 August 2017
As the sister of someone extremely like Rex, I was disturbed, heart- broken, and reminded of my life growing up with an unpredictable, intelligent, unstable, and sometimes very charming man. His children loved him inexplicably but they are still living with the effects of their tumultuous life.

This movie, in my opinion, was fabulous. It was well paced and the dual story lines of past and current day melded beautifully. All of the acting was superb. Woody Harrelson deserves an Academy Award and all of the child actors were phenomenal. I was especially impressed by Ella Anderson who played young Jeannette. She expressed so clearly her emotions, both love, hurt, and anger at her father and with that I believe she also deserves kudos.

Go see this movie if you enjoy deep, emotional, thought-provoking films.
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Irritatingly 'Hollywood' adaptation of an incredible book
Martha Adam17 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I read the book last week so it was fresh in my mind when I went to see the film, and I know this will sound like another book lover whining "the book was better" but this is absolutely the case. If you haven't read Walls' memoir, it is a beautifully written, honest account of a childhood with parents who were selfish and neglectful to an absurd degree. One of the best things about it is that Walls writes without any self pity and focuses the story on how she and her siblings survived thanks to their resourcefulness despite the ridiculous things her parents did. It is emotional because the reader is left to make their own judgement rather than the author telling us to pity her for how awful it was.

What blows my mind is how the Hollywood misogyny machine managed to make the entire film about the father. Yes the father is a huge part of the story, and the author had a closer relationship with him than some of her siblings, but the film made him out to be some kind of anti-hero. We are directed to see how flawed and imperfect he is in a "yeah he did some bad things but really he was great" kind of way with the result that you come away feeling like he really tried his best and nothing was really his fault. All of this is at the expense of the mother being a developed character - in the film she is a 'battered wife' stereotype, whereas in real life she was just as selfish and neglectful, and as accountable as the father. The memoir gives a variety of instances such as when the children had not eaten for days and found the mother eating from her hoard of chocolate bars; or when the kids found a diamond ring and the mother refused to sell it to pay for food because it could replace the engagement ring the father never got her and her self-esteem was more important!

The resolution of the film was the part that made me the most angry. Brie Larson tearfully tells her husband she's leaving the restaurant (of course she really means leave the marriage), removes her heels and starts running down the road to get to her dying father - what the hell?! Followed by an emotional deathbed reconciliation with the father and the final Thanksgiving scene where Larson sobs "I feel so lucky" before the family toast to the father as if all is forgiven - it was so saccharine it made me want to vomit.

Ultimately the whole film relied on stereotypes - the tortured alcoholic father, the weak mother, Larson as a cold career woman who ultimately decides her dysfunctional-yet-lovable family are more important than money and success. All of this dumbed it down just enough to be just another story of a man doing whatever the hell he wants and ultimately being forgiven in the end because deep down he had a good heart and wiped out all of the parts of the original memoir that made it such a riveting, unforgettable read.

My final gripe is the choice to switch from the child to adult actors during some of the later childhood scenes. Of course this is common and does involve some suspension of disbelief, however it was particularly uncomfortable during the scene in the bar with Robbie. Now then, it's pretty bad that Rex pretty much gives Robbie permission to take his daughter upstairs and do whatever he wants because she can take care of herself. In the film, we're invited to feel sympathetic towards Rex (again) because he's just found out his beloved Mountain Goat is planning to leave him. He's hurt, he's betrayed, so why should he come to her defence right? So she goes upstairs with Robbie, he tries to rape her but she gets away by showing him her "ugly scars". She's played by Larson at this point and she's about to move to NYC, so how old would we imagine she is, late teens? Well folks, here's a revelation for you - SHE WAS THIRTEEN. In real life that wasn't an ill-judged incident brought on by Rex's grief for his abusive mother, no, he deliberately took his 13-year-old daughter to the bar with the express purpose of using her to charm older men so that he win their money. He then does nothing to stop said older men taking his 13-year-old daughter upstairs and it's only at that point that the film and the book line up. But let's remember she was THIRTEEN. What angers me is the fact that the filmmakers decided they wanted to put that scene in (presumably for some kind of shock value) but decided that it was a little too shocking, so we'll water it down by having an adult actor and throwing in more emotional context that makes the father slightly less of an asshole and puts more responsibility on his adult daughter to look after herself. Because if the real story had been shown, we might be a bit too angry with the father to be OK with the nice little deathbed reconciliation. See my problem?

What I will say, is that this film was very well acted, particularly by Larson and Harrelson. I still found myself drawn in and welling up in some of the more emotional scenes, so perhaps if you haven't got the book to compare it to, you may like it. It's only that that makes it a 5 rather than a 2 for me; though I'm still irritated that most of the elements that made the book so good have been cut to satisfy Hollywood's apparently insatiable appetite for stories about middle-aged white men.
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Phenomenal Storytelling and Performances
Movie Paradise21 August 2017
One of The Glass Castle's strongest aspects is how it takes an experience unique to a small amount of people, and makes it so relatable to the masses. 99% of the people watching this movie have not had an upbringing like Jeanette's, but the film crafts the story in a way that you can form parallels to your own life. This isn't just telling the story of someone's childhood; it becomes a commentary on the ups and downs of family life itself. And that's where The Glass Castle becomes something more profound. Some may have seen this relatability as a simplification of child abuse. But I would disagree. The movie never painted what happened in the film as a good thing. It never tried to spin that the parents for justified for how they chose to raise their kids. Instead, they showed that, when you boil it all down, the dysfunction between Jeanette and her parents stem from the same place as other people's parental issues. Instead of isolating the audience by showing us something completely and utterly foreign to us, they chose to make it relatable so that we could draw comparisons to our own lives...
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Made Especially for the Wounded Warrior.
MHeying777-114 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This is the film of the century for wounded warriors like myself who survived severe childhood trauma and chaos. I sat down in the theater and it was over in a blink.

I sobbed in more than a couple of places and left in a state of shock that lasted for hours. For "civilians," this masterful bio- flick will not be such a monumental achievement, for they lack a frame of reference. The sting of a hornet is an abstract notion for those who've never been stung. But for the rest of us..., wham!

Casting: Excellent, especially the roles of Jeannette and her father, Rex. The child roles were very effective, especially those of Jeannette.

Acting: Brilliant by Brie and Woody, who channeled Jeannette and Rex The Rosemary (mother of Jeannette) role was believable but didn't convey the degree of maternal indifference in the book. Woody seemed overweight for the role, but his mannerisms and speech delivery made up for it. He had several strong moments, but I expect his rendition of Rex's delirium in his Herculean struggle to quit drinking will be shown on Oscar night.

Script: Well done. Jeannette's story unfolds in overlapping flashbacks, starting when Jeannette as an accomplished adult writer in New York. Very effective for the way it emulates the consciousness of someone wrestling with their traumatic history but challenging for those who crave a simplistic plot line.

Setting: There are three main settings--New York City, Arizona and Virginia mountains (or similar "hillbilly" country). The Arizona desert scenes lacked the full brilliance of the sweeping sunsets and nighttime Milky Way galaxy that I recall. The scenes in New York and Virginia were confined as well, but effective.

Themes: Triumph over the effects of alcoholism, parental neglect, pedophilia and the resiliency of children in the face of parental dysfunction.

Key Dialog: "We have to stick together," teenage Jeannette to her siblings.

Suggestion: Read the book first. Jeannette's an excellent writer.

This complicated, emotionally draining film owes much of its high effectiveness to the fact that it is a true story, proving that fiction cannot compete with the harrowing reality of well rendered truth.
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Fails to capture much of what was good about the book
jmc476920 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The Glass Castle was one of my favorite books that I've read recently. But unfortunately, the movie fails to capture much of what was good about the book:

1. In the book the story is told from Jeanette's perspective. She is the narrator and the main character. In the movie there is no narrator and you could make the case that the main character is not Jeanette, but her father, Rex.

2. In the book the main focus is on how the children, through their resourcefulness, are able to overcome horrible parenting. The movie devotes some attention to the children's resourcefulness. But the main focus is on the father's child abuse and neglect, which makes the movie much darker than the book.

3. Except in one dramatic scene that occurs near the beginning, the movie places the blame for most of the bad things that happen to the family squarely on the shoulders of Jeanette's father. But in the book Jeanette's mother is almost as responsible for the family's down and out situation. In one memorable scene in the book (missing from the movie), the children, after going hungry for days, find their mother hiding under a blanket eating from her hoard of chocolate bars.

4. Most of the movie takes place after the family moves to West Virginia, which is the most difficult and depressing time period for the family. Almost all of the lighthearted, funny, and enjoyable parts of the book happen when the family is living out west, before they move to West Virginia. But the movie just skims over that part of the story.

5. The movie has a sentimental, "Hollywood" ending which is not true to the more realistic ending in the book.
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Dysfunctional family
pamma0914 August 2017
I read the book many years ago when it first came out and found it fascinating. The film may not be up to some people's wants - there is not enough time to tell the whole story. Four children born into a very dysfunctional family. An eccentric mother who probably should not have had children, married to an alcoholic dreamer - and a talker of his dreams. BUT neither take good care of the children and the children end up raising themselves. I have always felt that all families are dysfunctional - with varying levels of function. Woody's character has many issues from his childhood and only one is made known. He has many demons to fight and mostly he doesn't fight - he dreams. I am not a fan of Woody Herrelson however this is a good role for him. I am most impressed with the acting of the younger cast - to be able to show the real emotions of those siblings - well done. I think it tells the story well given the obvious time constraints of a film. The emotions ere and believable.
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We all have stories
David Ferguson10 August 2017
Greetings again from the darkness. We all have our stories. The stories that make up our life. Some of us dwell on the "bad" things, while others remember only the good times. A few even romanticize the past, which could also be termed embellishment. Where exactly on this scale that Jeannette Walls' story falls is debatable, but the facts are that her life story is the foundation for a best-selling book and now a high-profile movie.

Ms. Walls' memoir describes her unconventional childhood with bohemian parents who cared more for freedom and independence than for feeding their kids. Writer/Director Destin Daniel Cretton (a 'must-follow' filmmaker after his powerful 2013 indie gem SHORT TERM 12) chose this as his next project, co-wrote the screenplay with Andrew Lanham, and wisely opted to work again with Brie Larson, who stars as the oldest Jeannette (from late teens through adult).

The film bounces around in time from Jeannette's childhood in the 1960's and 1970's to her time as a New York gossip columnist in 1989. The timeline isn't all that bounces, as we watch this family of six, seemingly always on the run, ricochet across America with all their belongings strapped to the top of the battered station wagon – usually on the run from creditors or following the latest dream from Rex (Woody Harrelson).

Rex is the type of guy who rants against most everything that makes up what we know as society. He can't (or won't) hold a job and fills his trusting kids' heads with hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow - going as far as drawing up plans and specs for the off-the-grid fantasy home referenced in the title. Rex then spends what little money the dirt poor family has on drinking benders which cause him to become a nasty, abusive threat.

Rex's wife Rose (Naomi Watts) is a free-spirited artist who somehow possesses even fewer parental instincts than her husband. Although she could be labeled an enabler of his abusive ways, she might actually be the more interesting of the two, even if the story (and Jeannette) focuses much more on Rex. The best scene in the movie is when mother and grown daughter share a restaurant booth, and the two worlds collide.

Of course the real story here is how Jeanette managed to rise above this less-than-desirable childhood and achieve her own form of freedom as a writer. The stark contrast between the squalor of her West Virginia shack and the million dollar apartment she later shares with her fiancé (Max Greenfield) makes this the ultimate depiction of the American Dream – pulling yourself up by your bootstraps (even when you don't have boots).

The acting is stellar throughout. Mr. Harrelson could garner Oscar attention as he manages to capture both the dreamer and failure that was Rex. Ms. Watts maximizes her underwritten role and turns Rose into someone we believe we know and (at least partially) understand. Ms. Larson embodies both the desperation of a teenager whose environment forced her to be wise beyond her years, and the iciness of a grown-up trying so hard to leave the past behind. In just a few scenes, Robin Bartlett manages to create a memorable and horrific grandmother – one whose actions explain a great deal. The most remarkable performance of all, however, belongs to Ella Anderson (the only good thing about THE BOSS). She captures our hearts as the adolescent Jeannette – the closest thing to a parent this family had.

There are some similarities between this film and last year's expertly crafted CAPTAIN FANTASTIC. In fact, two of the young actors (Shree Crooks, Charlie Shotwell) from that film also appear in THE GLASS CASTLE. The biggest difference being that Viggo Mortensen's character could be considered to have an over-parenting approach, while Woody Harrelson's Rex never over-did anything, except drink and dream. The movie probably has a bit too much Hollywood gloss and sheen to adequately portray the hardships of a large family living in poverty, though the top notch acting keeps us glued to the screen. By the end, we can't help but wonder if some of Ms. Walls' romanticism of her father and past might be due as much to her immense writing talent as to her childhood challenges.
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A Real, Raw and Riveting Account of a Loving But Troubled Family
marshallfg12 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
(Warning, may contain some spoilers)

I like that the director stayed true to the book by opening with the stove accident because that captured my attention immediately. Told from the adult Jeanette's perspective looking back, the movie version took on a serious tone right away and lost some of what made the book such an addictive (no pun intended) read. When told from a child's perspective, some of the family's experiences seemed truly magical, like spending the night in the desert or dancing in rain puddles during a storm. I also felt a stronger emotional connection to the dad through young Jeanette's idealized view of him and was less able to hate him later when his alcoholism totally spiraled out of control. From the child's perspective, Jeanette's growing realization that her larger than life dad was not so heroic was very potent. The story told by the adult Jeanette was still emotionally powerful, but the present dysfunction gave away the secret of why her parents were so odd and why they kept moving. The fiancé was barely mentioned in the book, but I loved the dynamics between him and the dad in the film. That add-in was very helpful in understanding how Walls came to terms with who she is and where she came from. I wish the other siblings had been more developed. All in all, I liked this adaptation of Walls's touching and disturbing book and hope Woody Harrelson gets an Oscar for his portrayal of Rex Walls.
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Filled with one heartbreaking scene after another!
Hellmant17 August 2017
'THE GLASS CASTLE': Four Stars (Out of Five)

The new drama adapted from the 2005 memoir (of the same name) by Jeannette Walls, based on her experiences growing up in a poor dysfunctional family. The film was directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (who also helmed the 2013 critical darling 'SHORT TERM 12'), and it was written by Cretton and Andrew Lanham. The movie stars Brie Larson (who also starred in 'SHORT TERM 12'), Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts, Ella Anderson, Chandler Head and Max Greenfield. The film has received mixed reviews from critics, and it's performed modestly at the Box Office so far. I found it to be a little too long, and slow-paced, but it's mostly a very moving and enjoyable film.

The story is told from Jeannette's (Larson) point of view, as an adult, as she recollects on growing up as a child in extreme poverty. Her mother, Rose Mary (Watts), was an eccentric artist, and her father, Rex (Harrelson), was a free-spirited alcoholic. Jeannette, and her three siblings, were constantly forced to move, and often times they didn't have enough to eat, or ideally safe conditions to live in. The whole time Rex filled the children's heads with unrealistic hopes and dreams of a better life.

The movie is filled with one heartbreaking scene after another, I cried multiple times throughout the entire film. Larson plays the central character in it (as an adult), but Harrelson actually has far more screen time; and he's the real star of the movie (in my opinion) as well. As flawed a character as he is, Harrelson's character is also (in some ways) the most relatable, at least for me, due to his dreams and generally positive outlook on life. The film has many great moments in it too, but it seems to lose it's way at times, and it's sometimes a pain to sit through (due to it's pacing). 'SHORT TERM 12' is definitely a much better film, but this movie had a lot of potential to it. I think it's definitely still worth seeing.

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Woody at his Best!
metta110 January 2018
It was not easy for Woody to play this character, but he did an outstanding job!!

I was transfixed by this movie despite the sadness due to the very good acting of all members of the family. But it revolved around Woody.

I totally disagree with the bad review I just read. I never read the book so maybe that is why?
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An indie beauty: powerful acting with a dysfunctional family.
jdesando24 August 2017
"Your values are all confused." Rex (Woody Harrelson)

Fortunate we all are to have families that dysfunction in even small ways because they provide us with stories for a lifetime. Such is writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton's The Glass Castle, a story based on Jeannette Wells's (Brie Larson) family, overloaded by a dad, Rex,whose outsized personality, big brain, and capacity for booze dominates the four children through their adult years.

The commendable element infused by writers Cretton and Andrew Lanham is the realism enfolding odd characters, where bad things happen when dad drinks and kids have to forage for food while dad shrinks their little lives as he drinks. Having no food for days is not unusual for the Wells family, due to dad's drinking up their meager holdings. However, the kids learn how to survive, a commendable achievement in a dependent world, even in later 20th century.

Jeannette's and Rex's relationship is the ballast of this sometimes surreal film; artist mother Rose Mary (Naomi Watts) is too busy painting to be bothered with their hunger or dad's ranting. Jeannette's early accident with the stove is a visceral reminder that the bohemian life can hold some dangerous consequences.

Yet Rose's artistry is probably a source for Jeannette's writing excellence as dad's verbal fluidity is. Although he's the smartest man his daughter ever knew, he just doesn't stop talking. The film very smartly lets us see the dark and light sides of the characters, not unbefitting a West Virginia where talking is like breathing—colorful and crass but you have to do it to survive.

The central motif of the title is the glass castle Rex hoped to build, an energy efficient beauty with glass all around to let Nature in without letting the rough invade. Well, it never gets built, and the world does intrude. Happy for us because it's a great story, just like our own.

While the reconciliation at the end seems too neatly tied up, most of the film has a grit to remind us that although family is not always fair, it may be the best life has to offer.
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Great Real life Drama
wmusiwa19 January 2018
Plenty of substance to this story based on real life events. Very tangible to which I'd imagine many can relate to, BRAVO!
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Should have been so much more GRIPPING!
johnthemoviekidd11 August 2017
First off, I have never read the book the film is based on and had no real understanding of what I was about to watch. But I decided to go to the theater today and give it shot. I had recently watched "short term 12" also directed be Destin Daniel Cretton. Since he was on my radar I noticed "The glass castle" was just being released so I figured why not see it but unfortunately it didn't really feel like a valuable use of my time.

Like previous reviewers have said this film is not nearly as effective as a movie like "captain fantastic" in depicting a unconventional family. All in all it just feels very dry and pointless, in a strange way. I can't recommend this one. Really wanted to like it.
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Long dysfunctional movie true to form
mcfortunato-916773 January 2018
Long movie. Haven't read the book but I agree with one of the reviewers, too much focus on Woody as Rex. I think it would have been better told from Jeanette's viewpoint or her narration. And yes, Naomi as Rose-Mary the enabler, was as sick as Rex. Hard to believe these 4 children displayed in the movie, with all they went through, didn't grow up...really fucked up. But nonetheless, some great acting, Woody should get nominated for an Oscar as well as Brie Larsen.
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The Glass Castle
cultfilmfan16 August 2017
I remember reading Jeannette Walls' memoir back in 2012. A good friend had given it to me as a gift because he himself had read it and liked it very much and thought that I would too. At the time that I read, The Glass Castle, it was either the Fall, or Winter of that year and I remember that during that year I was dealing particularly with some unwanted anxiety and depression issues which were mostly situational issues and yet nevertheless they were there. As, I read this memoir, I found myself appreciating it and yet perhaps because of the fragile emotional state I was in where any little thing could bring about a strong anxiety attack, or racing thoughts, I found the book a difficult read not because it was overly academic, or anything of that kind, but instead because of the high emotional intensity of the book and the themes that the book ran on which in this case was a true story about a girl growing up in an extremely dysfunctional family. I remember whilst reading the book that I became almost exasperated at the two parental figures in the book and why they chose two live the way they did and why so much trauma and difficulties were thrust upon their young children at such a young and impressionable age. I haven't read the book since then as usually I will finish one book and then jump right into another with me very seldomly returning to a book to reread it, but one thing that stuck out about the book to me and it becomes even more apparent now that I have seen the film version of The Glass Castle, is that basically we are dealing with two parental figures who for reasons either of their own choosing, or perhaps some like other things were maybe situational as well. Needless to say they did not want to live a swanky, posh lifestyle and give their kids everything handed to them on a silver platter. These kids really had to witness a lot of difficult and what I would consider traumatic life changing things as they were growing up in the Walls' family household including alcoholism, poverty and going without daily necessities such as food as well as the fact that their father, Rex, could almost be really friendly and warm one minute, but in the next be the exact polar opposite and could come on strong, intimidating and even down right scary and mean. The alcohol he consumed any chance he had probably did not help this and there were often many family arguments and things that could get so tense and uncomfortable that you could probably cut the thick dense air around them with a butter knife. One element that is really rewarding to watch amiss the dysfunction is how these young kids really stuck together and would defend one another and more, or less made a pact between one another to always be there for each other because I think that even at a young age they knew that their family dynamics were not in the least bit what you would call "normal" and that to survive that they would have to make it on their own and be self sufficient and be able to provide for themselves and also each other. While, I was at times incredulous with these two parents while I read the book and also watched this new film, I have to say that the film also gave the story a new light to the subject in my eyes as while it showed the unhealthy living conditions of this family and what to most children would have caused irreparable psychological damage, the film also shows us that while living like this certainly wasn't easy for any of them that because of their surroundings they all grew up to be perfectly functioning and capable people who were not hindered because of their upbringing, but instead grew all the more strong because of it and truly learned to persevere and stay strong in the midst of whatever storms came their way. The film also showcases that while Rex Walls in particular was a terrifying figure at times and a true nonconformist and yet he had his own personal demons and troubles to deal with and even if he had an odd way of showing it, he really did love these kids with all his heart and that no matter what happened nothing would change that. And, I think also as the kids became adults they could put aside the troubling and bad times and remember everything that was good because there were certainly those moments as well. This film version of The Glass Castle, is top notch in each and every way possible and while it can not include each and every moment of the book, what it does leave us with is quite memorable. The acting here is beyond phenomenal from the young child actors to greats like Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, who I sincerely hope are both up for Oscars for their powerful and moving performances. This is a film that hits you quite hard emotionally, but at the same time is a completely rewarding experience that made me appreciate the book even more, but also gave me a different look at this family and dysfunction in general with even a sense of acceptance and love towards this family. This is the most powerful and moving film of the year so far and also with the best performances so far this year. A true masterpiece in each and every sense of the word.
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Bad adaptation of a fantastic book
loveminuszero00013 August 2017
I read the book just a few weeks before the movie came out so it was still fresh in my mind when I went to see this film. Woody Harrelson was superb as always but the movie really glossed over his character. There was no depth to the movie at all and at times it felt ridiculous and insulting to watch the Hollywood portrayal of these characters, particularly with Naomi Watts. Naomi's make-up and wardrobe were horribly contrived and her acting wasn't much better. She was a bad choice for Rose Mary. The movie changed the order and places of events, skipped about half the book, and threw some important parts in at awkward times just to get them in the movie. They also just plain made stuff up, particularly with the ending.

The movie lost the emotional punch of the book because they omitted everything that was difficult and meaningful. I didn't care about any of the characters and I was so frustrated and bored that I actually got up and left the theater for a few minutes. It was a sugar-coated, feel good mess. My advice, if this plot seems interesting to you, is to read the book and skip the movie. You'll thank me later.
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Extremely unpleasant and with almost no entertainment value whatsoever.
Dave McClain13 August 2017
In the classic 1990 holiday comedy "Home Alone", Old Man Marley (Roberts Blossom) tells Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin), "How you feel about your family is a complicated thing." I'd say that's true for most of us. No matter how uneventful our upbringing or how close we currently are with our family members, there always seems to be unresolved issues. Of course, significant issues in our childhoods lead to complicated feelings as adults. That has certainly been the case for writer Jeanette Walls. The former newspaper writer turned author endured a nomadic, poverty-stricken childhood, carved out a life for herself which was diametrically opposed to how she was raised and then had to come to terms with her dysfunctional parents and her complicated memories from her youth. She chronicled that journey in her 2005 best-seller, which spawned 2017's "The Glass Castle" (PG-13, 2:07).

To say Jeanette Walls had a difficult childhood is like saying that the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign was kind of divisive. Jeanette (played in flashbacks by Ella Anderson and Chandler Head) is the second of four children raised by Rex and Rose Mary Walls (Oscar nominees Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts). Rex acts like an overgrown hippie. His attitude is summed up well when he tells Jeanette, "Rich city folks live in fancy apartments with their air so polluted they can't even see the stars. We'd be out of our minds to trade places with any one of them." He loves his children on an emotional level, but does a terrible job of showing it on a practical one. He constantly indulges his drinking and smoking habits, but often can't afford food for his family. He can't hold a job, he avoids all financial responsibilities and he often moves his family from place to place – and in most of the places they live, they're squatting. Jeanette's mother isn't much better at parenting. She loves to paint and manages to do that in spite of her children often not knowing where their next meal is coming from. She gets frustrated with Rex, but she enables Rex's alcoholism and resists leaving him, even though he's emotionally and sometimes physically abusive towards his family. Meanwhile, their three daughters and one son are simply… stuck.

As an adult (in scenes that take place in the early 1990s – the "present" in this film), Jeanette (Oscar winner Brie Larson) has become one of those "rich city folks… in fancy apartments." She's a successful writer living in New York City with her fiancé, an investment banker named David (Max Greenfield). By this point, her three siblings have also settled in the Big Apple, as have their parents who are squatting in an abandoned building. Jeanette says she's happy with her fiancé and her job, and she seems to be, but her face also seems to betray a deep inner conflict regarding what she really wants in life – and how she feels about her parents. Early in the film, she drives past the two of them picking through trash, pretending not to see them. That incident launches her into a series of flashbacks in which we see her childhood play out (including a recurring subplot of her father drawing up plans for the titular dwelling, an energy-efficient house full of windows, which his children help him plan, but increasingly doubt will ever be built). In Jeanette's present, she struggles to come to terms with her upbringing, while her relationship with her siblings and her parents grow, change and move towards some sort of resolution.

"The Glass Castle" is difficult to watch – and not in a good way. The film is similar to 2016's "Captain Fantastic" (and includes a couple of the same child actors), but that one was somewhat entertaining. Movie Fans will marvel at the irresponsibility, neglect and even abuse on the part of these parents, and wonder how the kids survived, let alone felt any affection for them. In its synopsis, Rotten Tomatoes calls this movie "a remarkable story of unconditional love", but people who see it will be forced to consider whether these parents deserved such devotion and whether their children are foolish for trying to give it. This story is really more about resilience, while the experience of watching it is more like an endurance test. A few times, I found myself briefly closing my eyes, not because I was tired, or even because of any specific images on the screen, but because I simply didn't want to watch these characters anymore. Only my integrity as a reviewer kept me in my seat, but even that was tested. Hearing fingernails dragged across an old chalkboard is more pleasant than enduring this film. Director and co-writer Destin Daniel Cretton should never be allowed to bring another book to the screen. The book includes more interesting stories and more emotional levels than this adaptation. Cretton chooses to oversimplify Jeanette's life and focuses mainly on the depressing point of how bad her parents were. Only impressive performances by the main actors keep this movie from being completely unwatchable – and it's still a close call. "D"
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Awkward and disappointing big-screen adaptation of the gripping memoir
Paul Allaer12 August 2017
"The Glass Castle" (2017 release; 127 min.) brings the story, "based on a true story" as we are reminded when the movie opens, of Jeannette Walls' upbringing in a dysfunctional family. As the movie opens, we Jeannette, all grown up, is having dinner with her fiancé in New York. On the way home after dinner, she sees her mom and dad, obviously homeless, rummaging the streets of Manhattan. We then go back in time, it's probably the 1950s. Jeannette's mom is busy doing her paintings, so Jeannette is forced to fix lunch for herself, and accidentally sets herself on fire. It's not long before Jeannette's dad decides that her hospital stay has lasted long enough, and he sneaks her out... At this point we're 10 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you';; just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this movie marks the reunion between writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton and actress Brie Larson--they did the under-appreciated "Short Term 12" together a few years ago. Here they tackle a difficult task, namely how to bring the 2005 iconic memoir of Jeannette Walls to the big screen. I read the memoir, and there is a reason it is considered an absolute classic. It is crucial then to find the right performers for the key roles, and I believe that casting Woody Harrelson in the key role of Rex (Jeannette's crazy and drunk dad) was a mistake, for no other reason than Harrelson (whom I love otherwise) is simply too old for the role (he is mid-50s in real life). But there are other problems too: some of the scenes look so... staged! You can practically hear the director yell "And... action!", check out the awkward arm-wrestling match between Rex and David (Jeannette's fiancé). Last, but certainly not least, is that some of the material is so inherently unlikable that it feels wrong seeing it on the big screen (as opposed to reading it, where you can process it in the confines of your own privacy). Each time Rex says "Things are going to be different this time around", you just want to slap him straight. On the plus side, there are some terrific performances, none more so than the two actresses who play Jeannette at a younger age. Given the long shadow of the 2005 memoir, maybe no film could ever have done justice to the memoir, who knows. One thing is for sure: this particular movie is an awkward and ultimately disappointing adaptation.

"The Glass Castle" opened wide this weekend, and I really was looking forward to this. The Saturday early evening screening where I saw this at here in Cincinnati was attended okay. Yet I can't see this playing in theaters all that long, to be honest. The movie is simply not that good, and in a few weeks will be buried by other new movies. If you've read the book, approach this with caution, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
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When A Film Makes You Cry...
beorhouse30 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This film describes what so many Americans go through in their lives. America is not the utopia much of the world has been led to believe it is. But even if the plot had not been based on a real family, if the dialogue had not been written by a genius, if the supporting actors had been mediocre, and if the cinematography had been banal--and none of those things apply--how do you miss with Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts playing dad and mom to four beautiful, bright children? Themes explored? Self-hatred, male emasculation, alcoholism, extreme poverty (the family sometimes goes a half week without any food), backwater depression and hopelessness, and wonderful and expansive dreams with no substance. This is really a must-see film for all Americans, and is an instant classic. One glaring problem: Southern accents are all over the board, sometimes not sounding Southern at all.
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A Roller-coaster Experience in More Ways Than One
Trevor Pacelli11 August 2017
We usually prefer to think of ourselves as better off without our family, taking on trials by ourselves. The 2005 memoir by Jeannette Walls proves to us otherwise: we need our family more than we can ever realize, no matter what turmoil they may put us through. While The Glass Castle certainly means well in execution, this literary adaptation still pales in comparison to the book.

Director Destin Daniel Cretton wrote the script, along with Andrew Lanham, both relatively new to the art of screen writing. However the blame for the feature's weak service to Jeannette lands more on the imbalanced editing by the Oscar-nominated Moonlight editor Nat Sanders. He made little clarity as to where or when you were in time, the only indicator being the actress playing the main character. Even then, by the third act, hardly anything useful tells you when you are in time, as the makeup artists did nothing to let you know of anybody's age. So consequently, it became harder to connect with Jeannette in her adult years. Obviously, the time-jumping narrative structure here worked a lot more fluidly on paper.

Director Cretton did little to communicate the book's intention with the lack of screen control, resorting for the most part on a rarely focused Steadicam. The post production process also looked a little too rushed, with little contrast in the inconsistent color grading.

His casting decision for the lead in particular deserves some serious questioning, because frankly, Brie Larson (Trainwrecked, Room) contradicts Jeannette Walls' true hair color or skin tone. Believe me, at the end credits, you get to see real home videos of the real family, and Cretton ought to lose credibility for ignoring the detail of appearance. The reasoning behind his casting here seems more to do with Brie's rising status as an A-list celebrity with a rocking body and normal everyday face. Although, it could have been worse, Jennifer Lawrence, who looks even less like Jeannette Walls, almost took the part instead.

Yet amongst the beautified celebrity sickness, it still communicates the hard truth about honoring our own family members, even the dysfunctional ones. The whole cast works to their greatest effort to prove love's complex nature, in a trial of finding the beauty in the struggle. Some research proves that "The Glass Castle movie is actually more accurate than the book," (Bustle) and in film, the extra explored possibilities unravel one alcoholic father's dangerous self-fear.

Consistently in Jeannette's point of view, we watch her lifelong hunt after the demons in her life as she basically had to raise herself and her three siblings as they live from their suitcases. At a young age, she burned herself while cooking lunch because her mother cared more about her oil painting. Her father lead her in forced swimming lessons by throwing her into the water, literally drowning her. Then he attacked the swimming pool manager after the lesson nearly killed her, leading to the family running off into the wilderness to live.

She wanted nothing more than her abusive father to stop drinking, but she still loyally stitched his wounds and stargazed with him until she became old enough to question why. Yes, the ups and downs she shared with her father come off strong, and his intentions, even if dangerous, always seemed good in his perspective for his little "mountain goat" (the nickname he gave her). He taught her an important philosophy she unconsciously kept throughout her life: "you learn from living, all else is a damn lie."

So with each dusty landscape, with each blanketing snowfall, with each new painting covering up the family's trash heap of a home, with each stick of butter mixed with sugar, with each traumatizing episode with the father's mother, you sweat in dizzying fury as you watch the difficulties the father put his family through, until the outcome at last gives you some hope. The feminism here also meets common ground— while the women here need no man to obtain completeness, one can still make her a more well-rounded individual, just like in real life.

Once the credits roll after the turmoil, the proper morals spark your lightbulb: whether run by drunks or supported by loving saints, your family stays your family, no matter what happens. We each need one another, because we can never achieve perfection on our own. Whoever read the book should be satisfied with the recreated feel of the reading experience. I don't think I can recommend it to anyone else unfamiliar with the book, better cinematic family dramas deserve your time, such as the recent Captain Fantastic, which communicate the hard truth in a more impactful way. So long story short, Walls' intent of The Glass Castle remains unscathed: forgiveness helps you just as much as it helps your debtor.
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Cracks appear
Corey James6 October 2017
This review of The Glass Castle is spoiler free

*** (3/5)

BEFORE BRIE LARSON gained a well-praised Oscar win for her emotionally powerful performance in 2015s Room, she appeared in writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton's second feature 2013's film festival favourite Short Term 12 where she played as Grace a twentysomething supervising staff member of a residential treatment facility. A film which gave her almost unanimous praise from critics and awards alike. After her Oscar she was awarded with blockbuster success in this year's Kong: Skull Island and a chance to play the title role in MCU's Captain Marvel. However before that she returns to Cretton for his latest The Glass Castle.

Based upon Jeanette Walls' best-selling memoirs of the same name we have Larson starring as the grown-up Jeanette, a twentysomething writer working for a magazine in New York meanwhile happily living with her Fiancé (Max Greenfield), however, this soon transpires that she is using this look as a shield to hide away from her dysfunctional childhood. There are a few well-placed flashbacks showing her childhood living with her father, Rex (Woody Harrelson) an illiterate alcoholic who teaches his children the ways of life instead of taking them to school, he tells them stories to stir their imagination as hope for a distraction to their poverty. Her mother Rose (Naomi Watts) is an eccentric artist who much like Rex paints what she sees and instead of looking after her children she tries to paint a masterpiece. This leaves Jeanette, the second eldest child to cook and to clean this leaves her physically scarred. The family are constantly on the move from place-to-place desperately trying to avoid the government and tax payments.

The flashbacks are the films shining light forming most of the story as Cretton directs each form of Jeanette from young child (Chandler Head) through her pre-teen years (Ella Anderson) to Larson's adolescent and adult Jeanette swiftly and smoothly moving his camera along each memory. Whether it's her father promising to do something for her or tearfully listening to one of his stories he captures each of them in glistening form.

Unfortunately some of the flashbacks fail to grasp the imagination of Jeanette Walls' memoirs as a lot of the fail to securely transfer to the grown woman Larson plays in the present which makes her character sadly flawed utterly grading with her performance. Also it's both seemingly too tidy and too messy, and at the same time neither quite wild nor quite sensible enough making it a sadly more forgettable venture in Larson's powerful filmography. That said The Glass Castle is a subtle and utterly sweet drama which just about often enough breathes into raucous life.

VERDICT On the one hand The Glass Castle is a tidy poignant drama with refined performances and on the other it's a flawed tale which often fails to grasp Walls' memories on the screen.
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Good acting, lacking focus
reverendlinneken11 August 2017
The acting and writing for this movie are great, however, I think it missed the mark in terms of what of this incredible story the screen writers chose to focus on. I read the book as an amazing story of resilience, and while the film certainly didn't shy from the fact that Walls thrived despite the neglect and emotional abuse she endured as a child, it played more like a story about her relationship with her father than as a personal story about her tenacity to survive despite it all. I found the book inspiring. The movie didn't inspire as much as it pulled the heart strings. In the end her parents looked a bit too sympathetic, and I left the theater feeling that us viewers were robbed of some of the most raw and telling details her of her childhood, the details that best illustrated just how trying and unique her life was growing up. In all, though I thought the acting was great, I think the meat of Jeanette's personal story of transformation was sacrificed to make space for telling the specific story of her relationship with her father.
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tlarraya9 November 2017
I expected more from this film. The acting is good, no fault there. But since it's based on a true story I was kind of expecting something to happen to make the story worth making into a film and that never happens. I'm not impressed with this film and I wouldn't recommend it. I found it a little empty, without purpose. In a nutshell: uneventful.
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Hollywood has fun with homeless people!
carter-drewj3 November 2017
Our current economic situation leaves so many families with zero options other than "tent cities", or moving into a condemned building.

This "situation" happens to so many families now that "tragic" doesn't come close to how these people were displaced from the workforce, and even more tragic is how these families deal with the hand they've been dealt.

This movie .. is a joke - which lampoons all the thousands of families that have been displaced.

Then there is the other scenario which is also lampooned with much hilarity: Going off the grid .. many families having no other choice have gone "off the grid"! This movie manages to make fun of anyone who doesn't have $$ and a place to live. (unfortunately this is becoming a large percentage of the ex-working class) Woody should be ashamed for making fun of these disenfranchised people - He apparently thinks it's hilarious that families who are displaced and living in tent cities - have no voice except him.

Once again the Hollywood lecher's who have been front and centre with their abusing people, over and over - are now laughing at the families who have no other choice, but to live in tent cities, or city slums.

It's not that humorous Woody! Your father who confessed on his deathbed that he was part of the mob who "offed" JFK... would have much more sense than You do Woody.

It's not funny when families are forced to go off grid, and forced to live in slums - but Woody and the producers of this film, find displaced families fodder for entertainment bonanzas.

This movie makes me want to cry, that families who are striving their best to raise kids, are now just another joke to Hollywood.

Boo, and Major Boo for this film! Making fun of families that have no choice but to live off grid, off world is just sad.

Hollywood just gets sadder, sadder.
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Well-Acted--but Otherwise Mediocre--Drama
bastille-852-73154721 August 2017
I went to see this because I'm a fan of the cast. This film is a small and often depressing drama about a woman who grew up in a nomadic, impoverished family with an alcoholic and abusive father. Brie Larson plays the protagonist (as an adult,) and her parents are played by Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts.

The performances in this film are generally quite strong. Larson gives an emotional performance as the lead actress, bringing a lot of grit and tenacity to the role. Harrelson successfully treads a fine line playing an erratic and unstable character. Watts--while underused to some extent--does a good job playing the wife, who is shown as a complex and multi-dimensional character well beyond the traditional and generic "wife" characterization often used in feature films. While the acting (and cinematography) are impressive, the film's narrative is very flawed. The film's tone often feels melodramatic and souped-up rather than truly emotionally powerful. This tone is, without a doubt, the film's Achilles heel. Such a problem with the tone is evident throughout the film, as many scenes in the film's first half seem primarily designed to generate a standard response from an audience than portray something--or depict any thoughtful critique--about the characters. The second half of the film is generally an improvement, until the story builds to a cop-out of an ending. Worth a watch due to the acting, but wait to rent it. 6.5/10
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