The Glass Castle (2017 film)
The Glass Castle is a 2017 American biographical drama film directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and written by Cretton, Andrew Lanham, and Marti Noxon. It is based on Jeannette Walls' 2005 best-selling memoir of the same name. Depicting Walls' childhood, where her family lived in poverty and sometimes as squatters, the film stars Brie Larson as Walls, with Naomi Watts, Woody Harrelson, Max Greenfield, and Sarah Snook in supporting roles.
|The Glass Castle|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Destin Daniel Cretton|
|Based on||The Glass Castle|
by Jeannette Walls
|Music by||Joel P. West|
|Edited by||Nat Sanders|
Gil Netter Productions
|Box office||$22 million|
The Glass Castle was released on August 11, 2017, by Lionsgate and received mixed reviews from critics. They praised the performances of its cast (particularly Larson and Harrelson) but criticized the emotional tones and adaptation. The film was a moderate financial success, grossing $22 million in North America on a $9.8 million budget.
Jeanette, a gossip column writer, (Brie Larson) attends dinner with her financial analyst fiancé David (Max Greenfield) to help close deals with his clients. When questioned about her family by them, Jeanette lies by saying her mother is a successful painter and her father is working on a new technological breakthrough. After dinner, David sees Jeanette off in a cab. During the ride, the taxi is stopped abruptly by a drunk man in the middle of the road. Jeanette, in the back seat, turns her head to see her mother Rose Mary (Naomi Watts) dumpster diving. She then turns to hear the man kick the car and realises it is her father (Woody Harrelson), to whom she looks away from. She then gives Lori (Sarah Snook), her older sister, a call to inform her about the incident.
The story flashes back. Jeannette (Chandler Head) is eight years old. She lives a nomadic life with her delusional artistic mother, Rose, her drunk and carefree, caring and intelligent father, Rex, and her older sister Lori (Olivia Kate Rice), younger brother Brian (Iain Armitage), and infant sister Maureen. They all do not go to school. One day, Jeannette burns herself while making hot dogs for her family and goes to the hospital. A social worker is called and questions Jeannette about her home life. Rex arrives at the hospital, berates the doctor and social worker, and then uses Brian to create a ruse to distract the staff and escape. He moves his family out of town. While in the car ride, Rex explains his plan on building the "Glass Castle", to the amazement of Jeanette. When she questions about going to school, Rex then detours into the desert to prove the fun of learning outdoors. They then spend their night there. During the night, Rex encourages Jeanette and comforts her about the scars she got from the fire. He then hands her a knife to 'fight the demons', giving her strength.
[Present Day] David gifts Jeanette a new chair that was designed by a renowned furniture designer. Jeanette is troubled and informs him that she is meeting her mother that day. She meets her mother at a Chinese restaurant. She informs her mother about her plans on marrying David. Rose questions Jeanette about her love for David, and says she has to have a good plan to inform her difficult father.
[Flashback] The family quickly escape their new home to escape the debt collectors. They then move to a new, but extremely dilapidated house the next day. After relocating, Rex uses an unorthodox method to teach Jeanette how to swim while he was drunk. Jeanette then runs away crying. When the lifeguard comes over to question them, Rex gets offended and holds him in a headlock. Now, they need to move out as the police are looking for him. Rose convinces Rex to move back east to be near his parents and attempt to get some form of support, as Rex's alcoholism prevents him from holding down a job. Rex disagrees initially due to his pride, but through the persuasion of Jeanette temporarily moves in with his mother, Irma, his father and Stanley (Joe Pingue).
[Present Day] David and Jeanette go to visit her parents in an abandoned building in New York, where they are squatting. They meet her father at the entrance, where he brings them inside to meet Rose and her 3 siblings. Brian (Josh Caras) is now a policeman who recently made his first arrest in a drug bust. Lori is also leading a comfortable life while Maureen (Brigette Lundy-Paine) is currently living with her parents after a break up. Jeanette unsuccessfully tries to break the news that she's getting married to David. Rex then questions her whether she is truly happy.
[Flashback] After an angry confrontation with his mother, Rex moves his family to an abandoned house in the wilderness of upstate New York. Jeanette is skeptical of the new dwelling, but Rex promises her he will build her the glass castle in the backyard one day. Everyday, they work hard to build the foundation of the Glass Castle. One day, when they haven't eaten in 3 days, they get angry and question their parents about when they can finally eat. Rex then takes all the saved money and promises to bring back a feast. Instead, he spends it on alcohol and gets into a fight. During the night, Rex promises Jeanette that he will stop drinking. He ties himself to his bed for a few days to avoid any booze in a violent withdrawal. It succeeds, and Rex lands a job as a construction worker. That year, they have their first enjoyable Christmas with good food. That night during Christmas, Rex brings Jeanette out to pick a star for her gift. She picks the planet Venus, much to the humor of the both of them.
[Present Day] Rex and David have an argument about the market. They then engage in an arm wrestling match to decide the victor. David then wins and claims he can take anything Rex will throw at him. Rex then punches and breaks his nose. David and Jeanette angrily leave, where she reveals they are getting married. Back at home, David calls her family 'crazy', which seriously hurts her feelings.
[Flashback] Rose's mother dies, and she and Rex are forced to leave the children at Irma's house to attend the funeral in Texas. Jeannette and Lori walk in on Irma attempting to sexually assault Brian. The sisters attack her until they are pulled away by their uncle Stanley. Rex and Rose return and do little about the incident. When the family returns home, Rex begins drinking again, and his family is hurled back into deep poverty. Rose begs him to stop, which results in a physical altercation between them. Jeannette attempts to convince her mother to leave Rex, as she is sure he will never change. Rose refuses because Rex is the only person who believes in her paintings. The children all promise each other to save up, go to school, and move out to build their own lives.
As a teenager, Jeannette tries her hand at writing in school. Lori uses all of their savings (kept under the floorboards) to move to New York City and bids her siblings farewell with a furious Rex giving chase. A few days later, Stanley comes to inform them that Irma died. After the funeral, Rex goes for a night of drinking. Robbie, a friend of Rex's, asks Jeannette to dance. She tells him that she also plans to move to New York City soon. Robbie loses a game of pool to Rex and he reveals Jeannette's plan. Robbie then convinces Jeannette to go upstairs and attempt to rape her. She shows him the scars from the burns she got as a child and leaves.
[Present day] Jeanette gets a call from Maureen who says she won't make it to her sister's engagement party as she is moving to California. At the engagement party, Rex and Rose surprisingly show up. After an altercation, Jeanette finds out that they were sitting on a huge pile of land worth almost $1 million but Rex and Rose chose not to sell it because they wanted the price to rise. Jeanette is furious and bans Rex from her life.
[Flashback] When she gets home, she finds that Rex has stolen all of her savings. He mocks her for trying to leave, but she goes anyway, bidding Brian and Maureen goodbye. When she leaves, Rex is seriously heartbroken.
[Present Day] Rose meets up with Jeanette a few days later to convince her to meet Rex as he is dying and refuses to say a word. Jeanette refuses, disappointing Rose.
[Flashback] Jeanette attends college in New York City. Financial difficulty forces her to consider dropping out, but Rex shows up and gives her all of the money he has (most won from gambling) and tells her to follow her dreams.
[Present day] David and Jeanette meet with the furniture designer to close deals. When questioned about her parents, David tries to lie about it again. Jeanette, feeling uncomfortable, goes to the washroom to clear her thoughts. She then musters up her courage and reveals her parents true squatter lifestyle. She decides to meet her father, eventually calling off their marriage. In their final moments together, Rex apologizes for never being able to build her the glass castle he promised. He dies, and the film ends with Jeannette (now a freelance writer living alone), Rose, Lori, Brian, and Maureen happily celebrating Thanksgiving together and reminiscing about Rex's unconventional life. They agree that life was never boring with him.
- Brie Larson as Jeannette Walls
- Chandler Head as Jeannette Walls (age 8)
- Ella Anderson as Jeannette Walls (age 11)
- Naomi Watts as Rose Mary Walls
- Woody Harrelson as Rex Walls
- Sarah Snook as Lori Walls
- Olivia Kate Rice as Lori Walls (age 10)
- Sadie Sink as Lori Walls (age 13)
- Josh Caras as Brian Walls
- Iain Armitage as Brian Walls (age 6)
- Charlie Shotwell as Brian Walls (age 9)
- Brigette Lundy-Paine as Maureen Walls
- Charlie and Noemie Guyon as Baby Maureen Walls
- Eden Grace Redfield as three-year-old Maureen Walls
- Shree Crooks as Young Maureen Walls
- Max Greenfield as David
- Dominic Bogart as Robbie
- Joe Pingue as Uncle Stanley
In April 2012, Lionsgate was reported to have acquired the rights to the book and Jennifer Lawrence was in talks to star in the film. In October 2013, it was revealed that director Destin Daniel Cretton was in talks to direct the film and re-write the screenplay with Andrew Lanham from a previous draft by Marti Noxon. In October 2015, Brie Larson joined the cast of the film, replacing Lawrence; she had exited the film after a prolonged search for a male lead. In November 2015, Woody Harrelson joined the cast of the film as the father. In March 2016, Naomi Watts joined the cast as the mother. In April 2016, Max Greenfield and Sarah Snook joined the cast. In May 2016, Ella Anderson joined the cast.
The Glass Castle grossed $22 million in the United States and Canada.
In North America, The Glass Castle was released alongside The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature and Annabelle: Creation, and was projected to gross around $5 million from 1,461 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $1.7 million on its first day and $4.7 million over the weekend, finishing 9th at the box office. The film made $2.6 million in its second weekend (a drop of 45.5%), finishing 12th.
On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 51% based on 158 reviews, and an average rating of 6.0/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "'The Glass Castle' has an affecting real-life story and an outstanding performance by Brie Larson, but these aren't enough to outweigh a fundamentally misguided approach to the material." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score 56 out of 100, based on reviews from 39 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.
Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers said the film "peddles easy uplift instead of cold, hard truths" and gave it two stars out of four, saying, "Hollywood has a knack for sanitizing books that deserve better. In the case of The Glass Castle, it's a damn shame." Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun-Times also gave the film two out of four stars and was equally critical for its presentation, writing: "...a film that presents overwhelming evidence of Rex and Rose Mary as appalling human beings for 90 percent of the journey, and then asks us to give them a break? No sale."
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