THE GLASS Castle is a fascinating account of a homeless family, told through the eyes of the second eldest child Jeanette (played by Oscar winner Brie Larson of 2015’s Room fame).
If you ever need to know one rationale for being homeless, then The Glass Castle might be an eye-opener.
Based on the bestselling memoir of former website gossip columnist Jeanette Walls, the movie opens with an adult Jeanette who works as a magazine writer in New York. She is happy with her fiancé (Max Greenfield, seen in television’s New Girl ), but is she really?
The story unfolds through long flashbacks to her childhood with an obviously brilliant father (Woody Harrelson), unfortunately an illiterate alcoholic, and an eccentric artist mum (played by Naomi Watts, The Impossible, King Kong).
Food is not important to either parents. One prefers alcohol while the other prefers to paint. The parents prefer leaving what place of abode they have to avoid paying bills or taxes. Their narcisisstic quality leaves the children in dangerous situations as when young Jeanette (played by Chandler Head) cooks lunch and burns herself over the stove.
After all that running around, the parents end up at the father’s hometown where their grandmother still resides. There is an unexplored child abuse situation which can be puzzling in a tale that is filled with rich details. It could have explained Jeanette’s father’s emotional state but I guess that would be his story, and not hers.
The children ultimately learn to fend for themselves. A turning point is reached when money is spent on booze, and dad still weaves a tale around his project, a glass house. A teenaged Jeanette then tells her siblings that they must take care of themselves if they want to get out of their poverty-ridden lives.
In between all that snippets of drama comes the adult Jeanette who is obviously distancing her current life from that of her childhood. But she knows she cannot run from her demons, aka her parents who have moved to New York to be close to the children. They squat in a building set to be torn down.
It is interesting to hear Jeanette’s dad talk about what is wrong with the way the government runs its businesses, and even other homeless people’s views on why they have chosen their way of life. All of that comes at the end of the movie.
The tale does have closure, a happier ending than you would have imagined. The children have dealt with life with maturity and even filial love. What may be dysfunctional to you and I, is normal when that’s all you know. Then you learn otherwise.
In Jeanette’s life, kindness and love has tempered her memories. It’s a sweet tale.
** cover pic by