The Glass House


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Teen shockers are growing up. This is an excellent example of the cruel step-parents scenario, which, in the past, would have degenerated into mad-axe behaviour.

Leelee Sobieski is not a Warsaw lap dancer, but one of the new breed of intelligent young Hollywood actors - you can't say actress anymore. Her role model should be Chloe Sevigny. They share an intensity and commitment that overrides vain posture.

She plays Ruby, 16, who, with her 11-year-old brother, Rhett (thoughtful performance from Trevor Morgan), is orphaned when their mother and father are killed in a car crash. Family friends and one-time next door neighbours, Terry (Stellan Skarsgard) and Erin (Diane Lane) Glass, agree to become the children's guardians and so they leave home to live in a spectacular modern house, up in the hills overlooking the sea at Malibu.

You need to know certain facts. Ruby and Rhett have been left $4million in their parents will. Terry's auto business looks like it's in trouble and he has the heavy brigade on his back for the repayment of a loan. Erin is a doctor, who may be diabetic, or a junkie. Life in the state-of-the-art mansion lacks privacy - too much glass, not enough blinds. Can the family lawyer (Bruce Dern) be trusted? Can anyone?

If Hitchcock worked with teenagers, he would have liked this script. The tension creeps up on you. Is Ruby imagining it, or are those bad feelings she has around Terry justified? The relationship between the siblings is antagonistic. Rhett infuriates Ruby and he enjoys bating her. Even when things turn nasty, he's reluctant to listen to anything she says. This is so true and adds another layer to the catalogue of fear.

Sobieski portrays isolation and paranoia with unnatural calm, like someone afraid to breathe in case the candle blows out. Skarsgard controls the volcano inside with difficulty. You don't know what he'll do, but when he smiles you shiver.

Reviewed on: 23 Jan 2002
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The Glass House packshot
Orphans are taken in by a couple who aren't as altruistic as they first appear.
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Director: Daniel Sackheim

Writer: Wesley Strick

Starring: Leelee Sobieski, Diane Lane, Stellan Skarsgard, Trevor Morgan, Kathy Baker, Bruce Dern

Year: 2001

Runtime: 106 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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