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Film/TV glass castle

Published on October 9th, 2017 | by voxx

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The Glass Castle

Out: 6 October
Cert: 12A
Length: 127 minutes
Rating: 3/5

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Cast: Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts, Max Greenfield, Sarah Snook

Plot: Jeanette Walls (Larson) comes to terms with her childhood, growing up in poverty with her alcoholic father (Harrelson) and her mother (Watts), an eccentric artist.

Before Brie Larson gained a well-praised Oscar win for her emotionally powerful performance in 2015′s ‘Room’, she appeared in writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton’s second feature, 2013’s film festival favourite ‘Short Term 12′, where she played as Grace, a twenty-something supervising staff member of a residential treatment facility; a film which gave her almost unanimous praise from critics and awards alike. After her Oscar she was rewarded with blockbuster success in this year’s ‘Kong: Skull Island’, and a chance to play the title role in MCU’s ‘Captain Marvel’. However, before that she returns to Cretton for his latest, ‘The Glass Castle’.

Based upon Jeanette Walls’ best-selling memoirs of the same name, we see Larson starring as the grown up Jeanette, a twenty-something writer working for a magazine in New York and living happily with her Fiancé (Greenfield). However, it soon transpires that she is using this look as a shield to hide away from her dysfunctional childhood. There are a few well-placed flashbacks showing her childhood living with her father, Rex (Harrelson), an illiterate alcoholic who teaches his children the ways of life instead of taking them to school. He tells them stories to stir their imagination in hope for a distraction from their poverty. Her mother, Rose (Watts), is an eccentric artist who, much like Rex, paints what she sees and tries to create a masterpiece, instead of looking after her children. This leaves Jeanette, the second eldest child, to cook and to clean, which leaves her physically scarred. The family are constantly on the move from place to place, desperately trying to avoid the government and tax payments.

The flashbacks are the films shining light, forming most of the story as Cretton directs each stage of Jeanette’s life, from young child (Chandler Head) through to her pre-teen years (Ella Anderson), to Larson’s adolescent and adult Jeanette, swiftly and smoothly moving his camera along each memory. Whether it’s her father promising to do something for her or tearfully listening to one of his stories, he captures each of them in glistening form.

Unfortunately, some of the flashbacks do fail to grasp the imagination of Jeanette Walls’ memoirs as a lot of them fail to securely transfer to the grown woman Larson plays in the present. This, sadly, makes her character flawed, utterly grading with her performance. Also, it’s both seemingly too tidy and too messy, and at the same time neither quite wild nor quite sensible enough, making it a sadly more forgettable venture in Larson’s powerful filmography. That said ‘The Glass Castle’ is a subtle and utterly sweet drama which just about often enough breathes into raucous life.

VERDICT: On the one hand ‘The Glass Castle’ is a tidy, poignant drama with refined performances and on the other it’s a flawed tale, which often fails to grasp Walls’ memories on the screen.

- By Corey Denford


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