A couple of years ago, I read and reviewed “The Glass Castle.” I absolutely loved the book, and it’s one of my favorites. I was excited to learn that it was being made into a movie. Commenter Leona and I saw it last week. Here are my thoughts.
Glass Castle: Book vs Movie
The movie is beautifully filmed. I felt it was well casted too, although the actress cast as mom Rose Mary looked decidedly more glam than I would have imagined from the book. I was pleased that the film seemed to stay quite true to the events of the book, although, as is true for probably every book/movie combo, there are far more details and anecdotes in the book than in the movie. I enjoyed how the movie even worked some of these in, though. For instance, in a scene where dad Rex is dying, he is having a discussion with Jeanette and he throws in references to some stories that those who have read the book will remember.
Don’t leave too quickly when the movie ends, because there is some great home movie footage there showing the actual people depicted in the movie. I always enjoy seeing the “real people” books are written about. We even get to see Rex pontificating about the evil gov’mint, back in the ’80s. I did wonder how that footage was captured, given that he was basically homeless at the time.
There are a few scenes in the movie that weren’t in the book; for instance, the movie gives more time to Jeanette’s adult life than the book did. There are scenes showing Jeanette and her first husband that were new to me.
Glass Castle Movie Trivia
I read a few articles about the Glass Castle movie and learned some interesting things. For instance, Brie Larson plays Jeannette, and in some scenes the ’80s suits she wears actually belonged to Jeannette during that era. Also, mom Rose Mary’s artwork is famously shown in the film. One of the artworks is a painting of Rex Walls that the real Rose Mary painted.
I felt that the honestly abusive childhood endured by the kids came across in the book as probably 60% due to Dad, 40% due to Mom. But in the movie, Dad is pretty much the total villain. I wondered if that might be due to the mom still being alive and presumably watching the movie.
Glass Castle Reception
After I’ve seen a movie, I like to look online at reviews to see if they line up with my general thinking. It seems from what I’ve read that The Glass Castle didn’t fare too well with critics. The main thinking against the film seems to be that the kids’ childhood was so dysfunction that HOW DARE A MOVIE TRY to depict the dad or other aspects of it as positive or heartwarming? I didn’t like this line of thought. After all, to me one of the messages of the film was that of hope — Jeanette ended up as a successful adult who grew from her childhood and learned from it rather than being defeated by it. Really, don’t each of us have things from our childhood that weren’t ideal? Yet don’t most of us also make the best of the hand we were dealt? I feel like the bad reviews are attempting to dis the film because they don’t like its viewpoint. Sadly, these days in America if you disagree with someone’s opinions, you’re likely to be attacked. This seems to me like a case of that, unfortunately.
If you enjoyed the book — or even if you haven’t read it, but like a good story — I think you’ll enjoy this movie. Have you seen it? What did you think?