Review: The Glass Castle

I'm not like you.

The true story of Jeannette Walls (Brie Larson, Elle Anderson, and Chandler Head at different stages) and how she grew up in poverty with her nomadic parents (Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts) before becoming a journalist in New York City.

Before I knew there was a movie in production, I read Jeannette's memoir of the same name after reading about another family forcing their children to live in poverty. I couldn't put it down, I finished it in one day. Jeannette Walls is a better person than I am, because I don't think I would've spoken to my parents ever again after leaving them. Once I learned a film was coming out, I was excited about the cast, but I had one fear: That the movie would somehow romanticize her experience.

And they did.

The Glass Castle gets the melodrama treatment that the memoir didn't have. Everything has been made to look "neater." When Jeannette was three, she severely burned herself cooking hot dogs, here she's about six or seven. When her father "teaches" her to swim (this time in a public pool, not a pond like her memoir) she's a pre-teen, where in real life she was around seven or eight. The children look cleaner, their house less severe, and the film omits the fact that they actually were in school most of the time. Their mother even teaches at a school they went too at one point, but that's left out so the film can have a big "we're in this together!" moment where the children make the decision to go to school themselves. 

Don't get me wrong, the movie does capture how awful that family had it when they didn't need to, but it's polished for moviegoers. It's not as ugly as reading it. They left out and changed so much of what made it compelling. 

That being said, the cast is really good. Harrelson and Watts are perfectly cast. Watts especially shows little spurts of Rose Mary's selfishness that the film didn't really go into, but was prominent in the book. 

Skip the film and read the book. It's far better.

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "I couldn't find a good one for you, so you'll have to write one yourself." - Rose Mary (Naomi Watts)


  1. hmmmm well now i am less excited about this.

  2. Nice review! I really wanted to see this get made into a movie, but the trailer didn't do it for me. Like you said, they made it a melodrama and romanticize what happened to her. The book gave me whiplash from everything her parents did to her and their kids, and never took responsibility for it either. I JUST. This is a no for me. lol

  3. I totally agree with you.
    We did a double header, this and Detroit: totally fun date night!


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