“When I lost her, I lost sight of any landmark that might have led me someplace happier.”
The Goldfinch, based on Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name, tells the story of Theo, a young man who is haunted by his past after his mother was killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the chaotic aftermath, Theo takes a priceless piece of art that he keeps as he moves from place to place. The Goldfinch has everything going for it. A Pulitzer prize winning story, a distinguished cast, and my personal favorite, cinematographer Roger Deakins, only to name a few. However, somewhere along the way, the things I just mentioned were put on top a trashcan lid, and presented to us in one of the most unappealing ways possible.
I don’t know where to start in explaining how disappointing The Goldfinch is. To start, Nicole Kidman is completely wasted. She spends the majority of the film in quiet corners, or looking at Ansel Elgort from afar. As for Elgort, who plays our main character, he is definitely not up for the task of having an entire film rest upon his shoulders. Though the story does go back and forth between past and present (unnecessarily I might add, but I’ll get to that later) Elgort does share the main character responsibilities with Oakes Fegley, who really doesn’t do much better. In addition, Finn Wolfhard never really fits with this film. Though his character Boris is supposed to be a little outlandish, Wolfhard just never fit the persona. It’s as though the film needed some well-known actors, so they could appeal to mass audiences. I don’t know how much I can stress that the talents of this cast were completely wasted. What a shame…Speaking of wastes, the one redeeming quality that this film has is the gorgeous cinematography by Roger Deakins. The Goldfinch is incredibly beautiful to look at. Cinematography can’t get much better than that.
The Goldfinch, in its 800-page glory, must have been a beast to tackle. And in the films two-and-a-half-hour runtime, I still can’t imagine why they left the film so long. It’s as though screenwriter Peter Straughan and director John Crowley, simply took out parts that weren’t necessary, but failed to elaborate on the storylines that were included. Thus, leaving the film completely muddled and confusing. As for some characters, their stories are so significantly cut down to size, it’s hard to try to sympathize with them, or even miss them when they’re gone.
I’ve said it twice and I’ll say it again, The Goldfinch is a waste. It’s a hollow shell of a drama that could’ve been. And with a story that is so choppy and confusing, it’s hard to truly appreciate the story that Tartt was trying to tell. The film is insanely forced, but will no doubt show up once again during awards season. Those who find reading uneventful, will find more excitement in reading the giant novel than sitting through this snooze of a film.
Directed by: John Crowley
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Oakes Fegley, Finn Wolfhard, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, Jeffrey Wright, and Nicole Kidman