Martens' Movie Reviews

Movie Reviews from an avid movie-goer

Glass Castle Non – Spoiler Review

Released: August 11, 2017
Running Time: 2 hours 7 minutes

“Based on a memoir, four siblings must learn to take care of themselves as their responsibility-averse, free-spirit parents both inspire and inhibit them. When sober, the children’s brilliant and charismatic father captured their imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Meanwhile, their mother abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want to take on the work of raising a family.”

Glass Castle is based on the memoir of the same name that was written by Jeannette Walls that was released in 2005, and has sold over 2 million copies. I’ve never heard of the book, nor the movie until I saw the trailer a couple of months ago. I thoughts that it looked interesting that also had a great cast attached.

I went to see this movie with my sister on the Thursday night, and we got to see a pre-recorded interview with the real Jeannette Walls that was showing at the end of the Thursday Night showings of the film. My sister thought the movie was great, and would definitely see it again in theatres, asking her what she would give the movie, she proclaimed “at least an 8.5”.

I enjoyed the movie as well, but not to the same extent that she did, I think that that’s the beauty of movies, we all have our own opinions on movies based on our expectations, our past experiences, and relation to the source material. This movie bounces back and forth between 1989 and Jeannette’s childhood, and I thought it wasn’t confusing, but I would have liked that they included the years during the flashback scenes to give us a better idea of time.

Fair warning to people, Glass Castle has some squeamish scenes, as well as major alcohol and tobacco use, and deals with abusive childhoods.

Cast and Crew

This movie was directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, who has directed multiple short films, as well as 2 feature length movies that include ‘Short Term 12‘, and ‘I Am Not a Hipster‘, in 2013 and 2012 respectively. This is his longest film to date, with the other two barely crossing the 90 minute mark.

The screenplay was written by Destin Daniel Cretton and Andrew Lanham. The movie is as mentioned above, based off of the memoir which was written by Jeannette Walls. Andrew Lanham has only previously written ‘The Shack‘ which came out earlier this year, and is my mother’s favourite movie in a long time (I’ve yet to see it, but plan on it eventually). Destin Daniel Cretton also co – wrote ‘The Shack‘ with Lanham, as well as writing the scripts for his other two feature length films mentioned above.

The cast for Glass Castle includes Brie Larson as the main character Jeannette, Woody Harrelson as her father Rex, Naomi Watts as her mother Rose Mary, Ella Anderson and Chandler Head play younger versions of Jeannette, Max Greenfield plays Jeannette’s love interest David, Josh Caras plays Jeanette’s only brother Brian, Sarah Snook plays the older sister Lori, Brigette Lundy-Paine plays the youngest sibling of the family Maureen, and Robin Bartlett as Rex’s mother Erma.

The Good

This movie would have failed if the acting was not great, and it met that challenge head on, especially Woody Harrelson, and Ella Anderson, Chandler Head and Brie Larson as 3 versions of Jeannette. Ella Anderson and Chandler Head as the two younger versions were truly spectacular, and we connect to the Jeannette character because of them. Brie Larson is mostly detached and robotic for the most part of the movie, while it’s in character, we don’t really feel for her as a character until later on in the movie.

Woody Harrelson completely transformed into Rex, showing us the amazing father figure that he was at times throughout Jeannette’s life, as well as the darkness that his alcoholism brought him to. I believe this was one of the most rounded, and best performance that he has brought to the big screen.

The chemistry between Harrelson and the 3 actresses that portrayed Jeannette (Larson, Anderson, and Head), was extremely well done. It was a testament to Harrelson’s quality as an actor as well as the Jeannettes that made it so believable. I thought it was a very strong part of a film that would’ve failed if it wasn’t done so well.

Glass Castle will be an emotional rollercoaster for some, while others may find it long and boring, depending on their sentimentality. I was one of the people who found this to be very emotional. The acting performances mentioned above is what really drove it home, but the story was about how the kids struggle to survive, sometimes going days without food so that their father can purchase alcohol to feed his demons. You see the older Jeannette desperately try to everything her parents were not. Rex was trying his hardest to teach his kids how to be children, as well as ‘learning by living’, while he also struggles to provide for his family due to his heavy alcoholism.

The person behind the lens, in charge of the ‘cinematography’ of the film was Brett Pawlak, who recently worked on ‘Max Steel‘ and ‘All We Had‘, has worked with Cretton on both of his previous movies, I understand why Cretton loves working with Pawlak. He did a fantastic job at showing us the beauty of the American wilderness.

The music in the film, which was done by Joel P. West, who also reunites with Cretton after having worked on his other two films,  was the most consistent aspect of the movie other than Harrelson’s performance. I feel like the music added to the film in a very subtle way, that I didn’t notice at first but after thinking it through, I enjoyed the soundtrack.

The Not So Good

Glass Castle takes a while to hook you, and get you involved in the movie, and I think it’s because the pacing was off at the beginning of the film. There was a few pacing issues throughout the film, but was most noticeable at the beginning, which goes directly into my next problem with the movie.

I don’t believe that Glass Castle should have been over 2 hours, thinking back to the movie, I could see why certain scenes were put in, however, I feel like it distracted you from the main storyline and focus on Jeannette. In the end, I can think of approximately 10-15 minutes that could have been removed from the theatrical cut, and would have made it feel more focused and concise.

I feel that the ending in regards to relationships between two characters was put in to give it a nice and proper ending to it, when I feel like it should not have ended it the way that they did. I enjoyed the overall message, but I feel that the ending forgave too much that had happened and wa portrayed in the movie, that it removed the suspension of disbelief from story, and took me out of it at the very end.

Final Thoughts and Score

Overall, I thought that the performances by the 3 Jeannettes and Rex was what gave this film heart, and elevated the film to a higher than normal score. The story while emotional and unnerving was also uneven and the ending wants to make you feel certain emotions for characters that to me, felt contrived.

Glass Castle was beautiful, heartfelt, emotional and deserves to be watched at least once on the big or small screen. I would recommend Glass Castle to everyone who enjoys dramas, especially ones based on true events and people. In the end, I would give this film a score of 7.75/10.

Have you seen this film, if yes, what did you think, if not, do you plan on watching it? Let me know in the comments below!

What movie would you like me to review?

Thanks for reading,

Alex

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