The Glass Castle: Book vs Movie

Journalist Jeannette Walls’ 2005 The Glass Castle, has been adapted into a long-awaited major motion picture. The book, which spent over six years on the New York Times’ bestseller list, recounts Walls’ nomadic childhood with her impoverished and dysfunctional family. Jeanette and her three siblings were often neglected by their mother, Rose Mary, a selfish artist, and their father, Rex, an irresponsible alcoholic. When he was not drinking, Rex Walls was imaginative and tried to make even the most miserable times seem like a fun adventure to his children. At other times, though, the children were without food for days, and usually did not have access to running water. Because of this, the Walls children were forced to become self-sufficient and  Jeannette worked to escape her parents as soon as she could. Jeannette eventually moved to New York City and became a successful journalist.

Whereas the book was mostly told chronologically, other than beginning and ending with the story of Jeannette as an adult, the film adaptation of The Glass Castle jumps back and forth in time. The shifting between two separate times in Walls’ life interrupted the viewer’s immersion in the most interesting part of the story, which was her childhood.

Another aspect of the film which differed greatly from the book was the amplification of the adult Jeannette’s fiance, played by Max Greenfield. Other than serving as a mechanism for helping her overcome her embarrassment of her family, David seemed like an unnecessary and dull addition to the story, and Greenfield’s performance was subpar.

In contrast, Brie Larson, who played Jeannette’s mother, and Woody Harrelson, who played her father, were excellent. Harrelson portrayed Rex precisely as he was described in the book and was perfect for the part.

I found the noticeable differences between the book and the movie disappointing especially because I read and loved the book. While certain aspects of the film were enjoyable, overall, the movie fell short of the quality of the original.

(Copyright 2017 Abby Morris)