Review: The Goldfinch

An epic film based on an equally epic novel, time to dive into The Goldfinch.

Director John Crowley’s film, based on Donna Tartt’s Pullitzer Prize winning novel, follows Theo Decker (Oakes Fegley and Ansel Elgort) who is taken in by an upper-class family after his mother is tragically killed in a terrorist attack at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Having survived the attack, a scared and confused Theo takes a priceless piece of art named The Goldfinch while laying in the rubble.

The film continues to follow young Theo as he is plucked from his new family in New York to live with his bum of a father (Luke Wilson) and girlfriend (Sarah Paulson) in the paltry Las Vegas suburbs. As Theo goes through adolescence and into adulthood, he carries The Goldfinch and guilt for his mother’s death with him.

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I’ve been looking forward to The Goldfinch for quite awhile. In fact, I recall seeing previews for it in theaters before they appeared on television and getting overly excited. I mean, the cast is just incredible – Elgort, Nicole Kidman, Jeffrey Wright, Finn Wolfhard, Wilson, and Paulson. The premise, too, was incredibly intriguing. Perhaps I should have tempered my expectations.

The biggest topic of discussion amongst critics was what to include and not include in the film. If everything from Tartt’s almost 800-page novel was included, we would probably have a five-hour film. Instead, we get two-and-a-half hours that started to get a bit too long for my taste. I’m capable of sitting through long films so that they keep my attention the entire time. Goldfinch did not do that entirely.

Cast performances are very good overall, but Fegley stood out as young Theo. Dare I say, he gave the best performance of this cast. For a young actor, Fegley is able to convey such emotion with his roles, particularly in this film. Wilson and Paulson deliver performances that could very well be Oscar worthy as well. Elgort does what Elgort has done before in past projects and, while I thought he was good, I found it more difficult to connect with his Theo than Fegley’s.

The Goldfinch tries to balance a kind of, “whodunnit” thriller with a dramatic and tender coming-of-age story. It does a fairly nice job with both but, given how ecstatic I was to see the film, I left feeling disappointed.

My Rating: 3.5/5

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