The Glass Castle (2017)

The Glass Castle (2017) Cover

I am not able to objectively review The Glass Castle. This is a film that deals with the struggles that come from an abusive home when trying to move on and define who you are as an adult. It approaches it from a sensitive direction and paints a beautiful and complex picture of the abuser. This subject resonated with me on a very personal level and was cathartic to watch, making it difficult for me to see its flaws.

The most authentic part of the experience is how Woody Harrelson portrays his character, Rex. Even during the darkest and most awful moments, he would bring just a touch of humor and love. Those attributes are pretty meaningful to the texture of the trauma depicted. When Woody was able to make me chuckle right before almost making me cry, it reminded me of exactly how I’ve felt when I was there.

Just as Woody Harrelson captures the essence of the abuser, Brie Larson’s performance as Jeannette Walls is relatable. The catharsis of The Glass Castle comes from the struggle of Jeannette to love her abusive father as a damaged human being while at the same time forging her own life. Moving past abuse is a constant struggle, and you are never truly healed. Brie Larson captures that in her nuanced portrayal of an adult dealing with parents who cannot care for themselves.

Part of why this works so well is the plot construction. The focus of the story is on Jeannette Walls as an adult, navigating a path to a satisfying life. During the story of her self discovery, the narrative cuts to frequent flashbacks of growing up. As we see her in her present, we slowly get a picture of the forces that shaped her into who she is. As the audience, we get to clinically examine her past, the same way she is able to at this stage in her life.

The cinematography is mesmerizing, as it captures the subtle beauty of a world that doesn’t quite exist anymore. The director doesn’t simply show us small towns, desserts, and mountain-side homes, they show us the humanity in these places. It feels a like being there.

The music, though competent, fails to stand out. It holds everything together, but doesn’t shine or contribute anything special of its own to this story. I can’t recall a single melody from the entire thing. This is better than remembering it for being poorly done or out of place, but it is an opportunity to have been more effective.

I’m going to remember this movie for a long time. It helped me view my own life through a helpful lens. It’s not every day that a movie can touch a person like that. There’s no way I can fairly judge a movie that helped me heal as a person. All I can say, is that I highly recommend The Glass Castle. It’s a beautiful film that may make you both cry and laugh.

Final Verdict:Memorable and beautiful, this film has the power to make you both laugh and cry.