Director Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12) captures the spirit of Jeannette Walls’ 2005 best-selling memoir. Even with its flaws, the film is upheld by a tremendous cast (Woody Harrelson, Brie Larson, Naomi Watts, Sarah Snook and Max Greenfield) and gorgeous cinematography.
A few weeks ago, I got to see my favorite book come to life on the big screen. Overall, I was satisfied with the film. The Glass Castle is beautifully shot and well-acted. Plus, Woody Harrelson did a great portrayal as the alcoholic father. Of course, the script’s narrative could have been stronger and director Destin Daniel Cretton glazed over some of the book’s darker undertones. Yet again, this book had so much depth structured inside it, that it easily could have been a 3-hour movie.
In 2005, Walls’ memoir spent a total of 261 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list. By late 2007, The Glass Castle had sold over 2.7 million copies, had been translated into 22 languages, and received the Christopher Award, the American Library Association's Alex Award (2006) and the Books for Better Living Award. The very essence of this book captured our heart and souls. Walls digs you deep into her chaotic past as we travel with her poverty-stricken family through her years of adolescence. Larson captures Walls’ fierce posture in her adult form, while actors Chandler Head and Young Jeannette tackle Walls’ child and youth years.
The story of The Glass Castle conveys deep family heartache and trouble. It opens up old wounds and shows us what its really like for American families struggling with poverty. Jeannette (Head) is a young girl that comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother (Watts) who's an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father (Harrelson) who would stir the children's imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty. Set with awe-inspiring scenery in the distance, this is Cretton’s way of distracting the audience from the film’s narrative flaws. The emotions and characters are all still there and this is enough to keep the film afloat.
It was satisfied with the final outcome as we traveled with Jeannette’s family on screen and saw the raw misfortunes that she had to overcome. My advice, is to still read the book first. There you can grapple with the intimate written structure of Walls’ chaotic life. In the end, life is a journey and we have to make the most of it while we can. "You should never hate anyone, even your worst enemies. Everyone has something good about them. You have to find the redeeming quality and love the person for that." - Jeannette Walls
The Glass Castle is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For mature thematic content involving family dysfunction, and for some language and smoking.
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