I recently had the opportunity to attend an advance screening of The Glass Castle based on the acclaimed memoir by Jeanette Wells about her unorthodox upbringing and her complicated relationship with her father. Having never read the book, I was going into the movie blind, having only seen the trailer. But I was confident in the innate talents of Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, and Naomi Watts.
Larson’s Jeanette is fantastic, but it is Harrelson that is a true force of nature, straddling the line between cruel and eccentric as Rex, Jeanette’s father. Right off the bat, a daring hospital escape and subsequent rejection of modern medicine with far-reaching consequences complicate the audience’s views of Rex. Follow that with a harrowing attempt to teach Jeanette how to swim and I started to think Rex might not be a role model for fathers nationwide.
Watching Jeanette grow up and lose faith in her father was heartbreaking, but incredibly well-performed. Larson almost perfectly captures the struggle between her so-called perfect life as a gossip columnist and her failed upbringing. The cracks start to form in her life as soon as her parents reenter her life and they only continue to grow.
The only flaw I noticed in the film is that the “good times” were not as prominent as the horrific and cruel treatment Rex heaped on his children, so the inevitable ending was not able to be as wrapped-up and tidy for viewers. But any flaws were overcome by quality performances.
Destin Daniel Cretton, having directed Larson in Short Term 12, knows how to capture her best self and creates an engaging tale that captivates the audience from start to finish. I encourage anyone looking for a quality drama to take the time and see the film.