Glassland Review

Genre: Drama
Year Released: 2014
Distributor: Film Movement

Origin: Ireland
Running Time: 93 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 17+
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Human Capital, Pilgrim Hill, Silver Linings Playbook

Notes: N/A
Fun Facts:

-This is the 2nd film by Gerard Barrett who most famously made Brain on Fire which starred Chloe Grace Moretz.

Glassland is a film about a struggling taxi driver named John who still lives with his mother Jean. He’s trying to get more passengers and more money in general, but none of that is ever coming to him. On top of that, his mom is a raging alcoholic who drinks so much that she is literally killing herself. All he can do is film her with his phone as she’s smashing dishes and cussing him out. He has to take the liquor away from her so she could remotely function.

John is a protagonist that I have mixed to positive feelings about him. Jack Reynor does a great job playing that character which I had no qualms with. He had the right amount of stoicism, but also the right amount of concern necessary especially in the scene where he shows Jean the footage of her drunken outburst in the house. However, I find his sense of responsibility to be ambivalent. Sure, he’s trying to make a living and he does try to get his mom to go to rehab, but the one scene that raised red flags was his suggestion to have a party with his mom. I’m not going to go into all the details of that scene and the aftermath, but the usage of wine was definitely involved even though John got rid of all the alcohol and the last thing anyone would do would be to give an alcoholic an excuse to drink. His concern came across as confused to me.

Jane does have a standout role. When she freaks out in drunken rage, I got really uncomfortable and she looked like she was seconds away from killing her own son when she was in that state. Toni Collette was excellent in playing this character. The scene after the party where she talks about how she felt about her ex-husband, Jack, and her son who has down’s syndrome was just heartbreaking in how she mentioned all those feelings in such a calm fashion. The amount of brokenness and even a vile uncaring nature really came out during that scene. 

Another character who was interesting to watch was John’s friend (or should I say, mate) Shane. I had to do a double-take when I saw him and realized that he was played by a grown-up Will Poulter who I know from Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader as Eustace Scrubb. It was surreal given that he was in a clean movie back then, and all of a sudden he’s dropping F-bombs left and right and acting rude to a video rental clerk. He was funny and did distract from the dark nature, but even Shane had his own issues about not seeing his kid. Luckily, his character arc does go somewhere and he’s able to find peace for the most part.

The plotting could have been better though. I thought the rehab story arc which leads to John’s desperation for money came way too late only to have a rushed ending where they try to resolve everything at once. That should have happened in the middle of the movie and it would have worked better if they expanded on that as John tries to save enough money to pay for his mother’s care. Also, the Asian prostitute was a plot device more than an actual character. You see him driving her around in his taxi and obviously see her in the finale of the movie given what she went through, but more should have been done besides adding conflict to the last few minutes of the movie.

Glassland was alright. It had some legitimate potential as a film, but pacing issues and some protagonist-centered morality did hamper this drama a lot. I consider it to be slightly above average, but there are worse things to watch.

Adjustable Point System:

Add 1 point if you are a Toni Colette or Will Poulter fan.
Subtract 1-2 points if alcoholism-related plots make you uncomfortable.


-Good cinematography with its gritty feel
-Solid acting
-Showing John’s cash-strapped life without telling.


-Severe pacing issues especially towards the end
-Protagonist centered morality by giving Jane some wine
-The final story arc was way too rushed

Final Score: 6/10 Points

Content Warning: This is definitely a mature movie for older teens and up. There’s Jane’s alcoholism which is just scary to watch. There’s a human trafficking subplot near the end that will make viewers uncomfortable. The biggest content issue would be the language. Expect lots of strong language involved with several characters.

-Curtis Monroe

Photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws.


  1. Getting caught up on all the reviews I’ve missed! Very thorough examination of the points of this film that are rough around the edges. Pity, as this film could be quite powerful with a message like this. Sounds like it just needed some refining.


    • Thanks! I appreciate you checking out my little review blog. I thought Glassland had so much potential since it had good acting, but the plotting could have been so much better.


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