The Glass House (2001)
The Glass is Half Empty for Lane, Skarsgård and Sobieski
Get this straight, Ruby... you and Rhett... are mine - Terrence Glass
"The Glass House" wants and tries to be a dark moody thriller full of twists and intrigue which grips you to the point of submission, sadly the only submission it achieves is asking for all the nonsense to stop. The problem is that despite a decent cast featuring Leelee Sobieski, Diane Lane and Stellan Skarsgård, "The Glass House" is a movie which the longer it goes on the more out of control it becomes, throwing far fetched scenes and twists at you in the desperate hope that you don't spot the weaknesses and inconsistency in the storyline. It's not all bad as the stunning location and camera work helps capture a small amount of mood and atmosphere but it doesn't make up for the lack of a truly thrilling and well put together storyline.
When her parents die in a tragic car accident, Ruby Baker (Leelee Sobieski - Joy Ride) and her younger brother Rhett (Trevor Morgan) are taken in by their former neighbours Terrence (Stellan Skarsgård - Deep Blue Sea) and Erin Glass (Diane Lane - The Perfect Storm). Forced to move to Malibu to live in their stylish glass house, things start reasonably well for Ruby and her brother, but slowly Ruby starts to understand that the Glass's are not all that they first appear. When Ruby discovers that she has inherited a share of $4 million she begins to grow even more suspicious of her new guardians and their creepy behaviour.
On first appearances "The Glass House" looks like a very stylish thriller with director Daniel Sackheim capitalizing on many elements such as the stunning cliff top house where the movie is set. This continues with his masterful use of reflections and shadows to build up some really good atmosphere, even the bizarre weather which seems out of sync with what you expect of Malibu helps to ramp up the atmosphere. But then once you get past all the clever camera work and visual impressiveness you get to see that "The Glass House" is seriously lacking when it comes to storyline, to the point that story angles seem to get thrown in haphazardly as if it was being written on the fly.
One of the biggest issues from my point of view is that it starts off insinuating one thing with Terrence Glass's creepy behaviour towards Ruby leading you to believe that this could be a thriller which touches on child abuse. But then out of the blue another story angle comes crashing in, taking the storyline off in another more traditional direction, before yet another story element gets chucked into the mix. It definitely has a feel of being tampered with during production because it just doesn't flow. It's not even a case of too much going on as all the story elements could work together except in this case they jar with each other causing "The Glass House" to feel very disjointed having the knock on effect of causing it to run a little unevenly, exciting one moment, slow and cumbersome the next.
The fact that it feels like it has been written on the fly becomes even more apparent at the way the story spirals out of control to the point that realism is lost and far fetched almost horror nonsense takes over. At the start of "The Glass House", where it appears to be leading towards child abuse it feels surprisingly realistic and is gripping at the same time. But by the time the movie comes to close, in a highly predictable final scene, there is nothing gripping about it and in many ways feels over the top as characters change, they get hurt but get up again and without spoiling the ending things happen which are just utter rubbish.
As for the performances well the big name stars are wasted, especially in the case of Diane Lane who other than looking nervous and stoned has very little to do. Even when it comes to Lane's really big scene there is very little to sing about because the character is such a terrible one. The same can be said for Stellan Skarsgård who attempts to give his character some real menace but as the storyline spirals out of control so does his character as it becomes like an inept comic book villain.
The only performance which did really stand out is that of Leelee Sobieski as Ruby Baker. Looking like she would be at home in the likes of "Dawson's Creek" but coming across a bit like a young Helen Hunt she really does a good job of delivering a semi believable character in the midst of all the storyline nonsense. But her character does suffer like all the others the longer "The Glass House" goes on as it becomes more inconsistent and unbelievable.
What this all boils down to is that "The Glass House" is a confused movie which attempts to be thrilling but ends up being far fetched nonsense and almost laughable by the time it finishes. It tries to combine various story angles but ends up failing to blend them together causing the movie to jar and feel less than thrilling. Even big star names such as Diane Lane and Stellan Skarsgård fail to make anything really decent from the misplaced storyline; only the young Leelee Sobieski really makes any impact with her lead role.
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