The Glass Castle is a 2017 film based on Jeannette Walls's (Brie Larson) best-selling memoir of the same name. The film looks at some of the struggles Jeannette faced in her childhood, as she describes her childhood as chaotic. Her father, Rex Walls (Woody Harrelson) is an alcoholic. Her mother, Rose Mary Walls, (Naomi Watts) is a free spirit who didn't want the responsibility of raising a family.
The opening scene consists of a young Jeannette Walls cooking hot dogs unsupervised, while Rose Mary Walls is painting. Jeannette is severely burned; she receives physical scars from the burns on her body. Jeannette stays in the hospital. This shows viewers how fire plays an important aspect in The Glass Castle, as fire symbolizes the consequences of child neglect.
The Glass Castle centers around Jeannette and her siblings Lori, Brian, and Maureen. Jeannette considers her siblings her best friends because the Walls children learn to look after each other during her chaotic childhood. The title of the film, The Glass Castle, is a reference to a dream house Rex Walls is planning to build for the Walls children in the middle of the desert. As Jeannette grows older, the dream house symbolizes broken promises and is nothing more than just a fantasy.
The way Jeannette has to deal with child neglect makes her insecure about her parents and how she was brought up and raised in the United States. This continues into adulthood, where Jeannette becomes a successful journalist and is frequently asked about her parents by others. Jeannette fears that people will not accept her if they find out the truth about her parents and who she really was.
While Jeannette, Lori, and Brian become successful adults with successful careers, Maureen, the youngest child in the Walls family, lives with Rex and Rose Mary Walls. Maureen becomes lost in the world due to child neglect. She is the fragile person in the family who easily breaks into pieces due to lack of moral support and guidance over the years.
The Glass Castle takes place from the 1960s to the early 2000s, around the same time the memoir was written. The movie contains elements such as alcoholism and child neglect, which are not suitable for younger audiences. Also, there is no diversity in the film, as the main characters in the film are white. Though The Glass Castle is based on Jeannette Walls's memoir, it fails to capture diversity.