The Glass Castle (2017)
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“I never built the glass castle.
No. But it was fun to plan it. “
“The Glass Castle” is the film version of a true story that will baffle and mystify you. A film that balances between a romanticized comedy and a serious drama. It’s like an adventurous road-movie in which an apparently normal family travel around as nomads. But, “Apparently normal” is an understatement, because they lead a rather unusual life. And this thanks to Rex, the pater familias of the Walls family (Woody Harrelson). On the one hand he thoroughly hates everything that smells like capitalism. And on the other hand there’s also a serious alcohol problem that causes a number of problems. An addicted man with manic-depressive traits who’s planning already for years to build a dream house in the most efficient place (an argument that he uses over and over again when they are moving again for the umpteenth time). This realization involves a futuristic glass house. A house probably as fragile as the family structure in which Jeannette (Ella Anderson / Brie Larson) grew up.
Rex Walls is without doubt an intelligent person, but has never used this intelligence in a positive way. Hence the chaotic life with a different destination every other time. From a poor home to spending the night under a starry sky in the desert. Rex and Rose Mary (Naomi Watts) are parents who feel responsible for the welfare of their children, but on the other hand they can not bear that responsibility. Rose Mary is a would-be artist with a hippie look who follows Rex unconditionally and goes along with his illusions. Even though she realizes at certain moments that they aren’t exactly leading a normal life, it’s still very difficult for her to leave Rex. Sometimes she acts as if she’s intoxicated as well.
“The Glass Castle” contains some heavy themes such as raising children, an addiction and the consequences, rebelling against established values in a capitalist community and psychological child abuse. Even though it sometimes feels absurd and light-footed, the whole left an everlasting impression. A family life with well-meaning parents who make everyday life almost impossible. I haven’t experienced similar circumstances. But the addiction element is something that touched me personally. It showed in a realistic way how someone’s dependency is destructive and how difficult it is to reverse such a process. Despair and guilt were played in a striking way by Woody Harrelson.
Woody Harrelson plays his prominent role in a truly brilliant way. For me this was one of the best acting performances of this versatile actor till now. Brie Larson shows in a realistic way how the older Jeanette struggles with her inner feelings. There was this turnaround moment when she realizes that she doesn’t belong to the artificial world of the wealthy people and that the imaginary world of her father, she wanted to escape from so desperately, was the place where she felt at home. Perhaps it’s a bit too corny, but at the same time it’s really touching. The one who made the most impression, however, was Ella Anderson as the young Jeannette. The interactions between Rex and the young Jeannette were the most beautiful film moments. The father with his changing moods opposite that vulnerable girl whose unconditional love for her father is indestructible.
Even though it’s not explicitely about alcohol, I think this is the common thread throughout the film. I’m convinced that alcohol is the structural cause of the totally disrupted family situation and the reason for all kinds of incidents. Rex realizes that his family doesn’t get the regular life that they actually deserve because of his drinking problem. And when his favorite daughter asks the ultimate question to quit drinking, there’s that pained and guilt-soaked look. Most will see this parental behavior as unheard and irresponsible. But remember that an alcohol addict is trapped in a hard-to-flee compulsion pattern and most of times doesn’t have control over his behavior. However, I fear the film isn’t a reflection of how the situation was in reality.
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Warning: Contains spoilers and angry words. :)
Dumb, boring cliché-clusterfuck.
I really hate it, when people make melodrama out of serious issues actual people suffer or have suffered from. Reducing actually horrible things to cheap kitsch is just really tasteless to me, I'm sorry.
"He's done a lot of shitty things, but he's had his moments." Moments, you say? Oh, well then, that's a whole different story, IF HE HAD HIS MOMENTS! IF THAT'S NOT A REDEEMING FUCKING QUALITY, I DON'T KNOW WHAT IS!
Fuck this movie for seriously trying to show this delusional, irresponsible fucking psycho in a sympathetic light. Or for trivializing their mom's cowardice.
Fuck this movie for trying to say "He/It wasn't all that bad." after showing just how horribly sick and dangerous that guy is. The only thing she and her siblings should count themselves lucky for is that it didn't happen to come to anything worse.
"He dreams bigger than anyone I've ever met." Good for him. They set their children on fire by being super neglective, but at least their daddy has big fucking dreams, which never amount to anything.
"He never tries so be somebody that he's not." Yes, and he also steals his kids money to get shitfaced, lets them starve and is cool with their grandma molesting them.
When someone is doing something wrong, for whatever reason, they need to get feedback from other people. That's how it works. That's how we know we fucked up. But this guy just runs away from negative feedback and surrounds himself with people, who can't or won't stand up to him.
Fuck that prick of a dad and fuck that coward of a mom. And fuck him for drowning in self-pity at the end. And fuck everyone else for fucking celebrating him. And fuck the MPAA for not giving this an R-Rating. This movie is trivializing and romanticizing sick and dangerous behavior and shouldn't be allowed to be shown to kids without context or commentary.
The bulk of the film involving the relationship between alchoholic dad Rex to middle daughter Jeannette is beautiful and heartwarming--Woody Harrelson is fantastic. But the other bits of the movie involving Brie Larson as the elder version of Jeanette coming to grips with her poor upbringing and future are cut whole-cloth from the Hollywood Hall Of Dysfunctional Family Tropes: parent embarrasses daughter at social gatherings, daughter's rich fiance is a schlub, daughter reconciles with parent as parent is near-death, etc. There's a half of a great movie here.
to see which of your friends have seen this movie!