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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter

The Glass Castle

by director/co-writer Destin Daniel Cretton

“I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a dumpster.” The moment I read that opening sentence of Jeannette Walls’ memoir, The Glass Castle, I couldn’t put it down. There was something about her voice, the way she described her messy family with equal shares of brutality and admiration, how easily she could fill a single scene with absurdity and horror and laughter and love. Always love. That was what drew me in. No matter how ugly or devastating things got with her family, there was always love.

I’m the second oldest of six kids, 3 boys, 3 girls. We all grew up in a tiny old house on the island of Maui with my mom and dad. To say that Jeannette’s story felt familiar to me would be an understatement. Her story felt like my own. Now to be clear, I’ve never had to eat food out of garbage cans or scavenge for coal to keep warm, but watching her navigate the world through the lens of her family was something that I was able to relate to more than anything I’ve read in a long time.

The first time I talked to Jeannette, I was immediately filled with a desire to spill my guts to her. Her ability to be so open and vulnerable made me want to do the same. That’s her secret power. She’s a wide-open book. Good, bad, embarrassing, she’ll share it all with humor and humility. And as she does, you start to feel less alone.

I hope this film can do that for some people—that you might leave the theater knowing there’s someone out there who you could share that part of you that has always put your stomach in knots, the part of you that has always seemed too absurd or embarrassing or shameful for anyone else to understand. When I shared some of those parts of me with Jeannette, she didn’t even flinch. Her response was simply, I get that. And in an instant, I was okay.