It is possible for your parents to be dicks…and loveable…at the same time.
I know. #MindBlown, right?
BQB here with a review of “The Glass Castle.”
Based on the biography of journalist Jeanette Walls, this movie is a family drama/tearjerker/coming of age story/quasi-Oscar bait though it’s a bit too early for award season.
Brie Larson, and her younger alter ego, Ella Anderson star as adult and child versions of Jeanette, respectively.
Her parents, Rex and Rose Mary (Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts) are, for lack of a better description, total buttholes who are utterly incompetent when it comes to parenting.
Rex drinks. Rose Mary dreams. Both parents are like adult versions of children with their heads stuck in the clouds. Neither of them is capable of holding down a job which means they roam the countryside, squatting on vacant properties or living outdoors. Worse, just when they start to make it in a community, Rex will inevitably do something stupid that requires the whole clan to pack up and haul ass out of town lest they get on the bad side of the law.
Rose Mary fancies herself an artist, spending all her time painting instead of, oh I dunno, making sure her children are fed. Rex considers himself a great thinker/philosopher and constantly rants and raves about all of his deep thoughts about the world, but can’t figure out how to earn a steady wage. He’d rather spend his time designing a grand castle made out of entirely of glass, an achievement he hopes will one day prove to the world that he isn’t a total loser.
And losers these parents are. Rex and Rose Mary (but mostly Rex) are constantly making bad decisions that put their children into harm’s way but the rub is at the end of the day, they love their children and both have their high points where they endear themselves to children.
Thus, a quartet of young cherubs, lead by young Jeanette, are put in a tough position. They hate their parents for putting them through hell…but they also know their parents are doing their best that their limited, roomy brains will allow and the harm they cause is unintentional.
In short, Rex and Rose Mary suck…but they can’t help it. And there’s the lesson that maybe a lot of viewers can relate to. Unless you have super awesome perfect parents who are great at everything then at some point in your life, you might just have to suck it up and admit that your parents aren’t always right about everything, so sometimes you’ll have to learn to tell them no and strike out on your own (when you’re adult, of course.)
The film moves back and forth between young Jeanette dealing with her young parents shenanigans, and an older, more mature Jeanette who has overcome a life of poverty and parental stupidity to become a well-to-do gossip columnist.
As older Jeanette looks back on her youthful memories, she must come to terms on whether or not to make amends with her elderly parents now that they are, God help her, squatting in an abandoned New York City building because…poor Jeanette…her parents just won’t leave her alone.
Perhaps you don’t have parents as crazy as these two, but I think many people have a love-hate relationship with their families. Perhaps they have said or done things that have harmed you in some way…and yet they have probably also done things that have helped you along the way. Such is the deal with Rex, whose drunkenness, day dreaming and constant failure has ruined the lives of his children and yet, at times, he offers words of wisdom or provides grand gestures that helps them.
Sometimes it is possible for parents to suck…and yet be loveable…because they don’t mean to suck. They just can’t help but not suck.
Brie shows off her acting chops and she’s still holding strong as the hot new actress to beat. We see a more fragile side of Naomi Watts than we’re used to as she appears as a weathered old lady at some points in the film.
Woody Harrelson steals the show as the Dad you love to hate…or even…hate to love. He’s a dick…he’s nice….he’s mean…he’s evil…he’s a drunk…but he wants to change….he’s a failure….but he has it in him to be a success…he sucks…he doesn’t want to suck…he’s a walking contradiction in terms.
Overall, the suggestion seems to be that to ever be truly free of all the family drama in your life, you need to move the fudge away as soon as your eighteen and not look back. Forgive your parents for their failings and love them for their goodness because, chances are, yes, there were times they failed you but maybe they didn’t mean to or they were trying their best but were limited by their own personal issues. Still, was it all bad? Surely, you can rustle up some love for them too.