The Glass Castle: Book vs. Movie

The Glass Castle
Thanks to MPRM Communications for a review copy of The Glass Castle DVD

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.

Glass Castle — Now out on DVD

SANTA MONICA, CA – Based on the best-selling memoir written by Jeannette Walls, Oscar® winner Brie Larson (2015, Best Actress, Room) and Oscar® Nominee Woody Harrelson (2009, Best Supporting Actor, The Messenger) star in The Glass Castle, arriving on Digital HD October 24 and Blu-ray™ (plus Digital HD), DVD and On Demand November 7 from Lionsgate. Hailed as “one of the must-see movies of 2017” (Vanity Fair), The Glass Castle chronicles the adventures of a young girl growing up in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads. From the producer of The Shack and The Blind Side, the film also stars Oscar® Nominee Naomi Watts (2012, Best Actress, The Impossible) and Golden Globe® Nominee Max Greenfield (2013, Best Supporting Actor – Television, “New Girl”).

Chronicling the adventures of an eccentric, resilient and tight-knit family, The Glass Castle is a remarkable story of unconditional love. Larson brings Jeannette Walls’s best-selling memoir to life as a young woman who, influenced by the joyfully wild nature of her deeply dysfunctional father (Harrelson), found the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12) and written for the screen by Cretton & Andrew Lanham, The Glass Castle features all-new bonus content including a behind-the-scenes featurette and deleted scenes, and will be available on Blu-ray and DVD for the suggested retail price of $39.99 and $29.95, respectively.


  • 9 Deleted Scenes
  • The Glass Castle: Memoir to Movie
  • A Conversation with Jeannette Walls
  • Making of “Summer Storm” by Joel P West
  • Scoring The Glass Castle

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?

6 thoughts on “The Glass Castle: Book vs. Movie

  1. I haven’t seen the movie, nor read the book. I’m not sure they’re my genre of choice.

  2. Dad as villain. It’s the patriarchy, silly! I’m sure it has much more to do with Hollywood thought than with Mom being alive. The producer is male, but with a female co-producer and lots of other women in the “staff”. Great review!

  3. Both the book and the movie were great! I also agree that the movie stayed true to the real life story. It must have helped a bunch that the real Jeannette Walls was at the movie set being sure that it was portrayed correctly. Both the book and even more the movie has stuck with me for nearly a week now as I think of parts of it over and over again. The actors were brilliant, the scenery was right on, and the real life stories of the children’s grown-up successes were refreshing. Go see the movie even if you have not read the book, because it is worth it!

  4. I read the book a while ago and still think about it from time to time. The part that has stayed with me was how much hunger the children suffered. It was heartbreaking to read how they would go through the school trash cans to find food. And even though they were starving, they always saved some to give to their siblings because they, too, were so hungry. Would like to see the movie. Great review, Susan.

  5. After hearing about this book from several friends now I decided I would give it a try while on vacation. 25% into the book I was really wondering why it had the success that it achieved. I kept reading because I’ve appreciated other books mentioned here. In short I have more questions for the author than the ending gave. I appreciate perhaps her (Jeannette) lesson of not hating and it was well written but I think she had lessons of love and God in her life she had to have experienced to survive what she described. Can say I’m not interested in seeing the movie. Perhaps it was just not my cup of tea.

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