The Glass Castle Blu-ray review
Jeannette Walls sits in a fancy restaurant, jewels around her neck and her hair done to perfection. Before the plates can be cleared by the white-gloved servers, she asks to get her food boxed up, much to the embarrassment of her company. There are clear hints that her upbringing was more of the doggy bag variety than the caviar kind.
The movie flashes back to Jeannette’s youth, where we are introduced to her family, including her mother, Rose Mary (Naomi Watts, THE BOOK OF HENRY), and father, Rex (Woody Harrelson, LBJ). Rose Mary is neglectful to the point where she sends Jeannette (as an adult, Brie Larson; she is played by Ella Anderson and Chandler Head in younger years) off to the kitchen to make food while focuses on her paintings. (This results in a hospital trip.) Rex is an engineer-minded sorta-dreamer who feels he can provide his family a proper life by staying off the grid. (This results in class-shaming, empty stomachs and illness to name a few.)
Back in present time (well, the 1980s), Jeannette expresses how difficult it is to forget her life, which she knows will never fully be her “past.” And as the movie shifts the timeline (sometimes jerkily so), we can see why. She has been taught a lot, although perhaps not in the most conventional manners. An example: Rex offers her the wisdom of, “If you don’t want to sink, you’re gonna have to learn to swim.” And because he’s not exactly a subtle fellow, he literally throws her in a pool against her will to see whether she will indeed sink or swim.
It’s moments like this that work to pull the viewer out of the emotions. Rex, an alcoholic, wants to mean well, but he’s too selfish to care for. One wouldn’t be surprised if Rex, had Jeannette sank, moved over to young Lori (as an adult, Sarah Snook; she is played by Olivia Kate Rice and Sadie Sink in younger years) and said, “Welp, guess you’re next.” On the other side of the tent, Rose Mary lacks proper development and plays as a one-note person.
At the center is Jeannette, who herself comes off as an uneven character. At times she appears to be a mature woman, distanced from her upbringing; at other points, she feels too tied down, not quite wise enough to know when to quit. THE GLASS CASTLE, which is based on Walls’ 2005 memoir, seems to be missing the point that, I learned but it’s OK that I fully move on.
Director Destin Daniel Cretton (2013’s SHORT TERM 12, which also starred Brie) offers an unsteady hand that doesn’t serve the source material justice. THE GLASS CASTLE trudges in circles, moving from location to location and year to year while never completely accomplishing much in terms of fleshing out the themes or characters.
Video: 2.40: in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Details are strong and colors are fine, although the relatively muted tones throughout presents a fairly soft image.
Audio: English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD; Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles in English and Spanish. Dialogue is clear, while Joel P. West’s score comes through quite nicely.
THE GLASS CASTLE: Memoir to Movie (25:48): This featurette looks at bringing Jeanette Walls’ memoir to the big screen.
A Conversation with Jeanette Walls (15:24): Walls touches on why she wrote her book, storytelling, seeing the movie and more.
Making of “Summer Storm” by Joel P. West (3:22) looks at a song featured in the movie.
Scoring THE GLASS CASTLE (4:06) briefly covers the role of West’s score.
Deleted Scenes (9:32): There are nine here, which can be viewed separately or as a whole. They are: “Rex Throws Clipboard,” “Rex’s Proposal to Rose,” “We Could Live Like This Forever,” “Rosemary Arguing with Restaurant Manager,” “Rosemary Hiding the Chocolate,” “Family Sings ‘Oh Christmas Tree’” “Uncle Stanley’s Moment,” “Miss Bivens” and “Hospital Laughing.”