Film Review – The Goldfinch (2019)

Title – The Goldfinch (2019)

Director – John Crowley (Brooklyn)

Cast – Oakes Fegley, Ansel Elgort, Nicole Kidman, Jeffrey Wright, Luke Wilson, Sarah Paulson, Finn Wolfhard

Plot – Tells the story of Theo Decker (Fegley an Elgort) as he tries to overcome a terrorist attack that killed his mother in an art gallery that was showcasing the famous artwork known as The Goldfinch.

“I dreamt I saw my mother again”

Review by Eddie on 03/03/2020

Somewhere there’s a great story to be told cinematically in the adaptation of Donna Tartt’s critically acclaimed and best-selling novel The Goldfinch, but that version of the tricky to bring to life tale is not to be found in John Crowley’s dull and overwrought feature film.

One of 2019’s biggest commercial and critical disappointments, Goldfinch’s troubles are hard to pin down exactly but the crux of this troubled adaptations problems stem clearly from a lifeless and tiresome execution, one that squanders an able bodied cast and narrative potential in two and a half hours of screen-time that will see you looking at your watch tick by on more than a few occasions.

Crowley has previously proven to be a fine dramatic director with films such as Brooklyn and the underrated Andrew Garfield vehicle Boy A, but from the opening 20 to 30 minutes you sense the filmmaker is in a bit of bother as he struggles to find the heart of this tale of young boy Theo and his transition into young adult life as he tries to overcome a tragedy that killed his mother in an art exhibition.

Much of the films run-time will have you wondering why certain scenes are even in the film, as Theo feels like a passenger to countless scenarios of setups and potential, yet while young actor Oakes Fegley delivers a strong turn and Ansel Elgort zombies his way through his role, we never feel much of a connection to Theo or the underwritten supports that surround his story.

There’s star power aplenty as the likes of Jeffrey Wright, Nicole Kidman, Luke Wilson, Sarah Paulson and Finn Wolfhard show up through Crowley’s tale but none of them ever come to a place of fully formed creations as they help trudge Theo’s story along.

From countless moments of unbelievable chance encounters (in the bustling streets of New York nevertheless!) through to unearned friendships and relationships, nothing in The Goldfinch comes to a place of well-rounded fulfilment or interest, never more so evident than a bizarre final section that feels as though it’s from a whole different film entirely.

Luckily for Crowley he had the likes of DOP Roger Deakins on board behind the scenes, as while Goldfinch will leave you cold and empty emotionally on a human level, the craftsmanship on show in a film-making sense is of an extremely high quality.

Final Say –

The Goldfinch source material could make a great film if the stars aligned but this version of Theo’s unfortunate life is not that movie, as John Crowley struggles to breathe life into his emotionally empty epic.

2 pieces of antique furniture out of 5

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