The Glass Castle

The alcoholic father in this messed-up family believes in Hope. To him, his main responsibility is to offer his children hope, despite the dysfunction that surrounds them. I developed an overwhelming dislike for that man and viewed his children's devotion as a variation of the Stockholm Syndrome. Knowing it is based on real life made it tougher to endure.

Working from a thought-provoking autobiography by Jeannette Walls, writer Andrew Lanham and writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton have crafted a screenplay which uses a skilled cast to perfection. The amazing casting (we see the real people during the final credits and you will be astonished) plus the superlative costume design, acting and direction are each worthy of note. Personally, I am sick and tired of poverty, alcoholism and misery, but I guess you don't have to LIKE a movie to be impressed.

Part of Cretton's cast:
  • Brie Larson (Oscar for "Room") Jeannette is the daughter who devises a way for her and her three siblings to survive. The four of them have come to realize that neither parent will help. She is her daddy's girl but even that doesn't help most of the time. She tells her fiancĂ©, "When it comes to my family, let ME do the lying!"
  • Woody Harrelson ("War for the Planet of the Apes") Rex Walls offers hope. Always hope. Only hope. We figure out that his talk is cheap long before his children do. Their father is volatile, smart, selfish and unpredictable. He tells his children "You learn through living" and sees to it that they experience a wide variety of "lessons."
  • Naomi Watts ("Twin Peaks") Rose Mary is talented, but not very maternal. To her, a piece of art is worth far more than a square meal. Ms. Watts is outstanding as she disappears into the flaky persona of a would-be artist, unwilling to leave her brutal husband or protect her children.
  • An assortment of young actors portray our heroine and her siblings at different stages of their childhood, but the outstanding Elia Anderson ("The Boss") does most of the heavy lifting. She plays Jeannette Walls as a 10 year old.
  • Robin Bartlett ("Vice Principals") is Erma. Once we know Rex's mother, we understand much more about his personality flaws.
This is a PG-13 movie, so expect some domestic violence, coping with a gaping wound, implied child molestation, and dark humor. On the other hand, Ms. Walls insists that we acknowledge the resiliency of the human spirit.

I did NOT enjoy one bit of this movie (well, maybe the arm wrestling), but it has stuck with me, which says it has some intrinsic value. YOYO (You're On Your Own).
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