‘The Glass Castle’ explores difficult issues concerning family and maturity

The story of a wandering family in the ‘50s is told through flashbacks from the point of view of a young woman played by Brie Larson

By Olivia Jackson | Sept. 13, 2017


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Told through a series of flashbacks, The Glass Castle, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, portrays the story of a young family in the ‘50s that wanders from place to place, never living in a permanent settlement for an extended period of time. Woody Harrelson and Brie Larson come together to deliver an emotional and exhilarating performance throughout the film.

Harrelson plays Rex, the father of the Walls family who loves his family fiercely despite his dependence on alcohol. He plans to one day build a home for his family made entirely of glass, which represents an unachievable ideal for completion and happiness. His daughter Jeannette, played by Larson in adulthood, is his biggest supporter.

In the early years of her adolescence, Jeannette attempts to justify her father’s actions because she sees the potential in him. However, as she ages, she begins to lose faith in him. Eventually, she moves to New York City and becomes involved with a stable, business-oriented man.

When her mother and father migrate to New York City, Jeanette is forced to confront her unstable past. Both of her parents express concern for her because they believe she is not living a truly happy or fulfilled lifestyle.

Hauntingly dark subjects such as abuse and abandonment are touched on in this movie, and they provide a deep social commentary. The portrayal of these themes clearly communicates the fact that people can become so emotionally damaged by others in their lives that they begin accepting the abuse inflicted on them.

Throughout the film, the most important storyline is clearly the one that follows the impact Rex’s alcoholic tendencies have on his family. This is done through Jeannette remembering her formative experiences that happened in relation to her present interactions with her father.

A handful of intense scenes combine to tell a dramatic and heart-wrenching story of how alcoholism affects a family. The damage forces Jeannette to create a substantial amount of distance between herself and her father in her adult life.

Her resentment of her father even pushes her to pursue a relationship with a man who is the stark opposite of him in order to prove to herself that she is capable of change, unlike Rex.

Watching the relationship between Rex and Jeannette change throughout the decades is a beautiful tragedy. The emotionally compelling storyline and powerful acting performances delivered make The Glass Castle a must-see film.

Edited by Claire Colby | ccolby@themaneater.com

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