THE GLASS HOUSE
Director: Daniel Sackheim
Cast: Diane Lane, Stellan Skarsgård, Leelee Sobieski, Trevor Morgan, Bruce Dern, Rita Wilson, Michael O'Keefe
MPAA Rating: (for sinister thematic elements, violence, drug content and language)
Running Time: 1:41
Release Date: 9/14/01
Review by Mark Dujsik
It’s obvious that at least one of the Glasses of the glass house in The Glass House is bad. The real question is: how bad? And that is essentially the same situation with the movie. When you start admiring the art direction of a movie, you know there really isn’t anything interesting going on. It is good art direction—the ideal portrayal of a yuppie paradise. Now, the majority of the movie isn’t bad—just inept and occasionally laughable. It’s a thriller with no thrills. By the end of the movie, though, we’ve witnessed something just short of despicable. We’re scared of teen violence, and movies that even suggest it are condemned and/or delayed. If there’s any portrayal of violence we should be worried about, this would be it.
It’s no surprise that movies today settle for less. Take a complicated or thought-provoking issue for the premise and then topple it with contrived and tired material. Ruby Baker (Leelee Sobieski) is an average teenage girl. You can tell by the way she talks to her friends, or at least you could if you subscribe to the kind of dialogue that only exists in movies. Anyway, she comes home late one night, and the cops are at the house. They tell her that her parents died in a car crash. The Glasses (Stellan Skarsgård and Diane Lane), old friends of Ruby’s parents, become guardians for her and her brother Rhett (Trevor Morgan).
Is this a setup for promising material? Quite possibly. Does the movie follow through with it? Just barely. Sure the movie slightly touches upon the issues that such a scenario would bring, but the plot quickly kicks into zombie status. Because of thriftiness and life insurance, the kids are financially secure. Throw in some shady dealings on the part of Mr. Glass, and you can piece together the rest (perhaps better than this movie does). All the while we learn too much about the Glasses and their motivations and any possible suspicion or suspense are gone.
I’ve noticed that movies like this occasionally partake in blatant allusions to famous and great literature. It seems that whenever the protagonist is in school, they will study a work that coincidentally parallels his or her own situation. The victim in this case: Hamlet. Boy, do they take a lot of license in referencing to it. But I suppose it’s important because the movie shows the trappings of a lower revenge drama. Although the movie takes an awful turn when it finally does kick into full revenge mode. I would hate to divulge the full details, but I will state that Ruby goes way too far. On top of all of this, Ruby was never really a sympathetic character to begin with. She’s selfish and spoiled—a brat, essentially.
The Glass House starts with unfulfilled promise, builds towards a laughable tedium, and ultimately shoots itself in the foot with its repulsive conclusion. The setup calls for seriousness, the resulting serious tone is all wrong in the face of the material, and when the movie begins to have fun, it is at the most inappropriate time. I wonder why a thoughtful and intriguing film like O might garner controversy while an exploitative movie like this seems to slip through the cracks.
Copyright © 2001 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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