Bout time we have a film of substance. The Glass Castle is a true tale of the talented survivor Jeannette Walls who grew up in a dysfunctional family driven by an alcoholic father. Sounds like a downer, but fine dialogue and editing and performances carry the film. Brie Larson is Jeannette Walls, the successful writer for NY Magazine who is born into poverty of a family of nomads. Due to their vagabond life style, they have learned values. This film is about the triumph of poverty over capitalism and the lousy values that too often the pursuit of the capitalistic dream encompasse. Woody Harrelson is spectacular as the alcoholic father whose intelligence and beliefs are clouded by alcohol as his family of five witnesses and suffers. Naomi Watts is the sleeper performance of the enabling wife who endures the stigma, pain, abuse of his alcoholism never to abandon him. A real plus for the film was no mention of AA or ACOA though The Glass Castle is the story of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic and told with true inspiration. Unconditional love. Walls is able to escape the abuse and poverty to become a successful writer, and meets a yuppie, Max Greenfield, whom she is about to marry until he lies at a posh dinner and says that Walls father is a successful businessman. Walls excuses herself from the table to ponder her engagement to a phony and returns to announce to the prospective rich clients that her father lives in an abandoned building in lower Manhattan and is unemployed. The alcoholism is downplayed which is good, but at times The Glass Castle is predictable. Flashbacks go from childhood to Walls present day and at times this contrast is hard to fathom and yet the joy of the film. Walls is a woman warrior. Her siblings are portrayed with an incredible skill by many children and, frankly, one of the high points of the film. When Walls emerges from hillbilly to posh writer hangin’ with the ‘in’ crowd, she aka Brie Larson loses a beat. She becomes too stiff and predictable. The ending is as you would expect as Walls life comes full circle and love is all around, even for a violent, alcoholic father, whom we are taught to understand, suffered from a disease. See this film directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. You will not need Kleenex, but will perhaps identify with Walls struggle to come to terms with her past.
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