The Glass Castle With Shatter Your Heart

Julia Berry (12th), Reporter

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[Spoiler]

“Blood is thicker than water”, or in this case, alcohol, is not always true. The Glass Castle is an intense drama based on Jeannette Walls’ best selling memoir of the same name. It is a story told about an extremely dysfunctional family and how four young children had to learn to grow up much too fast and in turn, take care of not only each other, but their alcoholic father and mentally unstable mother.

 

Walls’ novel was extremely detailed, vivid and at some points were painfully hard to read. Destin Daniel Cretton, the director, did not only do a great job of capturing those elements of the book, he also incorporated the character’s painful confessions and their reluctance to be sentimental.

 

The film revolves around a staggering, abusive drunk named Rex (portrayed by Woody Harrelson) and his family. The film moves back and forth between the childhood memories of Jeannette, the arguably “favored” daughter, and her life in 1989 Manhattan as a successful gossip columnist.

 

Although the book and film are about two parents and their four children, Cretton does a great job of zeroing in on the complex relationship between Jeannette and Rex. The relationship between these two is the cause of some of the best moments in the film to when it hits rock bottom. And in the end, it is clear that although the relationship is complex, the two tend to balance each other out.

 

“Destin was really smart about getting at the heart of the book. A couple of other screenwriters had taken a stab at it, and they were good screenplays, but Destin immediately said, ‘This is about the relationship between the daughter and the father,’ and he went into that, and I thought he cracked it right open,” Jeannette Walls told Vanity Fair.

 

Rex is outspoken, bold, and at times extremely selfish. He strongly fights against capitalism, racism, and hypocrisy so you can imagine when Jeannette announced she was engaged to a man, David, with completely opposite ideals, Rex was fuming. Jeannette is also outspoken and bold but she is also selfless and loving. When her parents failed to take care of her and her siblings, Jeannette picked up the slack. And despite everything her parents did, she continued to forgive them.

 

Harrelson tells NPR, “Rex Walls was kind of a complicated fella. He was actually a great dad in many ways. He loved his kids and he did a lot to show them kind of unconventional things and ideas, and definitely not rear them … to be indoctrinated by the society that he resented. But in other ways he was not so great. You know, he did drink a lot and he’d have some bad moods and take it out on the kids.”

In the end, Jeannette comes to terms with the complicated truth about her family and Cretten did a great job of honoring that complicated truth.

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