By Drake Hutton:
The film adaptation of Jeanette Walls’ 2005 best selling novel “The Glass Castle” follows the Walls family through the eyes of Jeanette as she and her siblings learn to navigate life with a drunken father and a mother who is more interested in her career as an artist than her children. Her father, Rex Walls, is a kind-hearted drunk who has issues holding down a job and keeping his priorities straight. However, he promises to build his family a “glass castle.” This serves as a beacon of hope for the children, especially Jeanette, who believes in her father even when the rest of the family doesn’t.
Director Destin Cretton creates a plot that is simultaneously representative of the past and present, similar to what he did with the film “Short Term 12.” This allows us to see the Walls family beginnings, as well as how their life unravels throughout the years.
Woody Harrelson does a wonderful job of portraying Rex. Rex’s personality ranges from that of an aggressive alcoholic maniac who ruins everything, to a misunderstood and goodhearted genius. His parenting is questionable at times, such as when he throws his daughter into a pool and forces her to learn how to swim on her own. On the other hand, when they can’t afford to buy their children Christmas gifts, he takes each one of them out to stargaze and “gives them a star.” Harrelson does an incredible job of portraying both sides of this character.
This film absolutely did justice to the book. It is truly moving and makes us appreciate both the good and bad elements of our childhood, and accept that it is often our rough beginnings that shape us into the people we eventually become.