The Glass Castle Movie: A Review

Has anyone else seen the movie? What did you think?

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Hello, everyone! More than a year ago, I wrote a review of Jeannette Walls’ memoir The Glass Castle, which I praised for being a straight-forward recollection of Walls’ neglectful and border-line abusive childhood. While the film adaptation, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton of Short Term 12, is a lovingly made, often touching film, it doesn’t carry the same boldness of its source material. Neither work points fingers, but Cretton’s adaptation tries to find forgiveness in a story that doesn’t deserve it. In trying to force a sappy happy ending, Cretton turns a blunt, complex memoir into a boilerplate Hollywood sob story.

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14 Comments

  1. I haven’t seen the movie, but I did read the book. After reading this review, I don’t think I will bother with the movie.

    It’s good to see a post from you, Lynette. I hope you are doing well. The things in the news lately are very painful.

    1. Hi Lynda. Yes I’m doing well. How’s your memoir coming? Yes the news is very painful as of late, especially for us survivors. I didn’t actually write that review which is why I asked the question “Has anyone else seen the movie?” This is actually one of my favorite memoirs too. And I know it’s been read probably by a million people. Yet I hear very little about the movie. Although this review is just one person’s perspective, I’m wondering if I should bother going to see the movie.

      1. My memoir writing has been on hold for the past few weeks, because I had a second surgery and biopsy in July that left me feeling very tired and brain fogged. Then, before I had fully recovered, I flew to Spokane, Washington, to visit my daughter and granddaughter for several days. It was a great visit, but I don’t think I was quite ready to do all of that, physically. But at least I did get the great news that the biopsy was benign, thank the Lord. The surgeon said that according to the pathology report, my body was having an autoimmune reaction to the tumor he removed. How weird is that? I guess this explains why I have been so tired.

        I wish you and I could go see the Glass Castle movie together, then talk about it over dinner. Now that would be fun. 🙂

      2. I’m happy to hear that your biopsy was benign and you had a nice visit with your daughter. I’ve visited Washington a few times and it’s a nice change of pace. That’s one good thing about writing, you get to work it in with whatever else is going on around in our lives. You’ll be back at it before you know it. Yes that would be nice if we could see The Glass Castle together and discuss it over lunch or dinner.

  2. I want to see the movie–just out of curiousity to see what they did with it, but since I am knee deep in editing my memoir, I’ve decided to wait and watch it on DVD.

    I remember how so many were upset with the Anne with an E on netflix and saying it was too dark and not enough like the books, while others said the books hinted that Anne was abused so they took it further in that series to show it. I see a recurring theme in both examples of these adaptations, most people don’t want to know about the real pain of childhood abuse and will do all they can to sugar coat it and or ignore it. This contributes to making talking about it seem more shame-filled–which could be deadly to young people.

    It takes great courage to write and tell our sad stories because there will always be someone who wants us to shut up and also others who are naive to the abuse who want us to brighten it up.

    I myself prefer the newer, more authentic Anne with an E, and I think I will probably prefer the actual book “The Glass Castle” to the movie version. Hollywood often ruins good books and then generations of people too lazy to read a book, will think “what a cute story, she had such eccentric parents,” when in fact her dad was very selfish–selfish enough to try to prostitute his daughter. Ugh!

    1. That’s pretty much what the reviewer in this post about the movie The Glass Castle is saying – that the movie is through rose-tinted glasses that is, it’s sugarcoated. That’s the thing when writing or showing abuse. I remember when I was writing my memoir, on one hand, a couple of my readers wanted to know more specifics about my abuse. But on the other hand, they didn’t want to read about the recurring abuse over and over. “Just once is enough,” they said. As memoirist, we walk a thin line. As you state, it takes a lot of courage to tell our stories…

      1. It really does take courage. I appreciate that your memoir actually followed a storyline. Some I have read are just long rants and I usually just shut the book and do not leave a review because I figure this person was injured enough already without my criticism and I can’t fault them for just being a poor writer. There but for the grace of God, go I.

      2. Thank you Cheryl. What’s the publication timeline for your memoir looking like? I can’t wait to read it!

      3. I’m hoping this fall but I am finding I needed to practice my writing skills a little in the form of making better connections between my stories so I am trying to do that right now. Prayers appreciated! ❤

  3. Read the book so don’t want to read this until I see movie…looking forward to it!

  4. Hi Lynette,

    I did see the movie and was so affected that I posted my own experience on my site. There was a feeling I couldn’t remember from the book, but you’re right, it was sugar coated and it left me feeling jealous that Mr. Wells had not been my dad. Now, that’s just sick!

    Thanks for your posts!

    1. I think that was a large part of the appeal of the book that the father was unconventional but still appealing. Now you have me wanting to see the movie.

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