Opening 21 Sep 2017
Successful New Yorkers Jeannette (Larson) and David (Max Greenfield) have to face her parents with their news. Rose Mary (Watts) is not the problem; Rex (Harrelson) worries them. Lori’s (Sarah Snook) advice is telling them, him soon. Brian (Josh Caras) and Maureen (Brigette Lundy-Paine) show-up for support, but nothing goes as planned. Although, is anyone surprised?
Flashbacks: Home is wherever the Walls family happens to be. Rose paints, dreaming of being famous, while Rex restlessly chases jobs and demons, albeit, the glass castle blueprints always travel with him. “Things are going to be different this time” is the mantra Jeannette Walls (Ella Anderson) and siblings hear from nomadic parents growing up. Quiet Lori (Sadie Sink), little Brian (Charlie Shotwell), and toddler Maureen (Eden Grace Redfield) – even though second in line Jeannette appoints herself peacekeeper. This works most of the time. Until Rex gets drunk once too often, and Rose acquiesces even after the kids intervene. They make a pact more binding than their eccentric, enriching, damaging upbringing. There is nothing wrong with dreaming big, just do not lie.
Director Destin Daniel Cretton’s cast is outstanding; their emotively balanced, candid performances negate any tearjerker trivializing. As in Jeannette Walls’ same-titled memoir, Cretton and co-writer Andrew Lanham’s screenplay is from Jeannette’s point-of-view. Unclear is some important background information, e.g. the cause of Rex’s alcoholism. Harrelson is formidable, exceeding his virtuosity as Rex Walls. Watts is impressive, Larson potent, with terrific performances by the youngsters – Shree Crooks and Shotwell acted in Captain Fantastic, 2016. Visually rich (Brett Pawlak, cinematography), the film’s tenor is further elevated by matching music (Joel P. West), skillful editing (Nat Sanders), nostalgic production design, sets, et al. Men whose troubles spill over into their personal lives tend to bear dysfunctional families. Still, nothing says molds cannot be broken, since “you’ll still have your star.” Stick around for the end credits that are superimposed over photographs/home movies of the Walls’ – past and present. (Marinell Haegelin)