At no point in my life will I ever become a free-spirit parent when raising my kids much like what’s being told in The Glass Castle. They will be going to school, getting an education so they can move on with their lives, and not gonna be in deep sorrow when trouble appears in the family. Though this won’t be an uplifting movie that leaves no good impression.
What’s the Story?: Based on the bestselling memoir, this tells the story depicting the life of Jeannette Walls (Brie Larson) through the struggles that have been stuck with her along with her three siblings and their free-spirit, yet dysfunctional parents (Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts) to where they’ve been constantly moving all over the country from house to house escaping from the law throughout her childhood.
You would think with a talented cast that’s attached to The Glass Castle and who’s behind might make for an emotional drama dealing with problems that drive most families apart. No one would do it better than director Destin Daniel Cretton, who co-wrote the script with Andrew Lanham. Most would recognize that this is his long-awaited follow-up to 2013’s underrated film Short Term 12, which also starred Larson. And it comes up short becoming another movie that should be labeled “Oscar-bait” with no emotional weight to really care.
But the story just goes for that melodramatic feel that doesn’t work at all. I haven’t read the memoir, but I can tell this didn’t take liberties in telling her story accurately and leaving out important details that could be interesting to figure out, even from not reading the book. Since a majority of the movie is through flashbacks that are from the 1960s to 1989 where Jeanette is now a gossip columnist in Manhattan while her parents are going through garbage, it still doesn’t give any chance of matter of preparing for what’s to come and just deal with the overreacting and anxiety reducing scenes.
It messes with the tone in a lot of scenes that shouldn’t make you question if you need to laugh to be curious. And yes, it does touch on the more darker aspect of the film with something that involved Rex’s mother and how the kids have been starving for days, but it wasn’t written with care to have a purpose to have feelings about what just happened.
The performances from Larson and Harrelson were the biggest strong points in the entire film, although it isn’t their fault by dealing with a muddled story. As daughter and father that are at odds for a majority of the film because of their ideologies in life, their talents made it work. Harrelson, in particular, carries every scene even when his character Rex can be very unlikable, especially because he’s an angry alcoholic. Watts plays Rose Mary, Janette’s inspiring of a mother, haven’t been in a good movie in a while because she also provides a good performance here, but this is right after The Book of Henry. But there isn’t much delph to her character except caring for her family.
Aside from the performances from the adults, Ella Anderson (Henry Danger), who plays Jeannette from ages 9-13, was really good in depicting how a young kid would have trouble with these kinds of complications with her family.
I would say that the first 20 minutes kept me engaged with how the story was gonna unfolded it’s beautifully shot. After that, it did turn into a long drama that could’ve been a satisfying story, but nothing to make it so.
And I don’t know why Max Greenfield is in here as Jeannette ’s financial adviser fiance because his character is basically Schmidt from New Girl but in the early 90s.
Dull and trying too hard to make this memoir meaningful but failed to capture a sense of compassion, making everyone in a state of dislike when it’s over. There are much better movies that have to do with dysfunctional families that are far much better than what’s being attempted a boring drama that had to potential to be fantastic. We should all hope that Daniel Cretton’s next film would end up WAY better than what we unfortunately got.
Aside from strong performances from Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, The Glass Castle is an overly long melodramatic without being powerful enough. Grade: C
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