Movie Review by Susannah Macklin
Starring: Diane Lane, Leelee Sobieski, Stellan Skarsgård, Rita Wilson, Michael O’Keefe
Director: Daniel Sackheim
When teenagers Ruby and Rhett Baker’s parents are killed suddenly in a tragic car accident, they are sent to live with the opulent and sophisticated Glasses (Diane Lane and Stellan Skarsgard). The couple believe a move to glamorous Malibu and token gifts will appease the children sufficiently to help them get over their parents death. However as time passes Ruby (Leelee Sobieski) becomes unsure about the Glasses seemingly perfect lifestyle. There are the dubious medicines in the bathroom cabinet, the distinctly unsavoury business associates and then there’s Terry Glasses peculiar behaviour. Are these the wild imaginings of an overactive teen imagination? Perhaps. Or is all not really quite as it seems in the Glass house.
With Leelee Sobieski’s looks, a few select films already on her resume (EYES WIDE SHUT, JOYRIDE) and being the right age to push her career down the same path as more unusual young actresses like Christina Ricci and Dominique Swain, it’s a sorry state of affairs that she chose this as her next project. It’s not that this is a bad film – it’s that Sobieski is totally undersold in a role beneath her talents. Frankly, any Hollywood starlet could have played this part, but at least with Sobieski having taken the role we’re given rather more than the part would suggest. Skarsgård and Lane also do well as the too-good-to-be-true guardians, Skarsgård particularly creating an air of sleazy menace.
The basis of the story is a good one, if not blindingly original, but Daniel Sackheim’s direction does well to build up the suspense with pure suggestion in the first half of the film. We, like Ruby, find ourselves wondering if it’s just the seeds of doubt sprouting in our overactive imaginations and that’s where the film has its best moments. The latter half however is not quite so rewarding, occasionally screaming TV movie and uncovering a few holes in the plot, though Sackheim manages to wipe the smears away just in time to save the audience wanting to chuck a brick through one of the windows!
Although THE GLASS HOUSE is essentially quite gripping it looses it a little too much in places to make it a big suspense thriller. Although it will keep audiences sufficiently entertained, it won’t get anywhere near being what it’s already tried to tout itself as – this is not the year’s sleeper hit.