Moviegoers reflect positively on The Glass Castle
On August 11, 2017, moviegoers flocked to see what was predicted to be one of the most memorable movies this summer. Based off of Jeannette Walls memoir, ‘The Glass Castle,’ details the reflection of her unusual upbringing with her siblings and nonconformist parents. Walls spent her childhood moving from place to place because her alcoholic father, Rex, can’t hold down a job and is convinced the FBI is after him. Too busy with her “burgeoning” painting career, Walls’ mother, Rose Mary, fails to look after her own kids. Both parents want to live free and easy, failing to see that this life only exists in their minds. They reject conventional society and all the social norms that come with being a part of it, which makes for a very curious plotline. The film itself has a romantic quality to it as it’s told through Walls’ adult perspective, flashing back and forth between her new, glamorous adult life and the mentally and physically turbulent childhood she formerly endured. The movie evokes three feelings in particular; sadness, anger and joy.
On one hand, this movie was pretty tough to watch. Starring Woody Harrelson, Brie Larson and Naomi Watts, their take on each character could not be more spot-on. In the opening scene of the movie, Walls is depicted as a young child telling her mother she’s hungry. Instead of making something for her, like any logical parent would, Rose Mary tells her five-year-old daughter to use the stove and make something herself. She says, “That meal will be gone in two hours but this painting will last forever.” Unsurprisingly, this ends in disaster with a trip to the emergency room. Instead of acting concerned that her daughter sustained serious burn wounds from trying to independently cook hot dogs, Rex’s only focus is on breaking her daughter out of the hospital–even before her wounds have fully healed.
When Rex is drinking, everything is horrible. Walls and her siblings go hungry and they’re forced to take care of themselves. Drunken Rex isn’t concerned with his family not having enough money for food and other essentials. He also thinks nothing of smashing Jeanette’s piggy bank full of money she’s saved over the years to move out and uses the cash to continue fueling his addiction to booze.
Despite the many scenes that have you rooting for the escape of Walls’ and her siblings, there is something beautiful about the messy chaos that is her life. In a flashback to her childhood, sober Rex moves the family out into the desert, making an adventure sleepover out of skipping town. Referring to city dwellers, Rex says “they can’t even see the stars.” Scared there are monsters lurking in the darkness, Rex shares a sweet moment with his daughter, howling at the desert itself, running towards the ‘monsters’ head on. As many things as Rex has gotten wrong, his daughter loves and believes in him unfailingly.
Throughout the entirety of the film, Rex works on blueprints for the ‘Glass Castle’ he wants to build, bringing the whole family into the magic. Walls believes most of all in all of her father’s wonderful promises and qualities their dream house will have. As complicated as this father-daughter relationship is, Walls endearingly loves her father and believed in him and his unfailing spirit for a long time. After all, Walls was “born to change the world. Not just add to the noise.” It may be may be messy, some may call it madness, but I bet Jeannette would simply call this film her life.
Brianna Dipanni, a senior, studies English. She is a copy editor for Le Provocateur