Potentially interesting moments butchered by corny execution
Ever been stuck in a mall with nothing to do? You walk up to the theatre and look at what’s showing because retail is a bore. You see “The Goldfinch” and think how the name’s got an interesting ring to it. Then you get on Google for ratings and the numbers ‘2’ and ‘6’ and the percentage sign behind them give you a tinge of disappointment. Gaah, but that’s just wretched Rotten Tomatoes! And then you see that it scored a 6.3/10 on IMDb and 41% on Metacritic. But it’s okay. I’m here to tell you that it’s okay. The Goldfinch wasn’t made for cinema audiences anyways, and retail therapy is a better option.
The Goldfinch (2019) is…
This is a movie based on a Pulitzer-winning book of the same name, directed by John Crowley and produced by Amazon Studios. The novel by Donna Tartt won its Pulitzer in 2014 to much controversy, hailing bad reviews from many major literary review platforms. And if making that a movie isn’t enough of a risk, The Goldfinch movie is 149 minutes long and screams ‘ARTHOUUUUSE’ beyond its thematic elements. But that’s not what makes this film a bad film.
This movie follows the story of a child who struggles to deal with the trauma of losing his mother in a bomb blast, where he was also instructed by a dying old man to take a painting called The Goldfinch before leaving. The Goldfinch follows the story of the boy into adulthood while unwrapping the strange events that happened in the museum as a means of a segue into destiny.
Donna Tarth’s novel is appraised for its attention to the internal musings and grapplings of the protagonist Theo. The movie shows an ardent love for this aspect of the book, sluggishly extending the Ansel Elgort’s character moments as Theo, and making the plot a mad rush, almost as if of necessity to draw closer to the finishing line. The movie’s using of plot progression and pacing as a gateway to these extended personal moments delivers a product that grasps at straws in attempts to feel ‘raw’. It is perhaps this, that has given the movie the bad rep of degrading its source material.
The young version of the protagonist is played by Oakes Fegley, who does outstandingly well given the narrative structure, aided by how a bulk of the movie’s major occurrences happen in Theo’s younghood. Finn Wolfhard plays Boris, a young troubled Ukrainian immigrant who introduces Theo to drugs and alcohol. It’s very difficult not to find Finn charming, though this exaggerates the honest bummer that is the rushed appearance of adult Boris.
This movie is a drag. It should’ve been something else.
It begins and ends with a Elgort’s self-narration which is decent, but is a pitiful reminder of how effectively the source material could have been delivered as a visually accompanied monologue. The young cast definitely help salvage some of the movie, though you might want to look out for the very visual and fun drug-use. There’s even a moment where the kids put strips of LSD in their mouths, and while it isn’t referred to as LSD, the cocaine that they snort is displayed very instructionally. All in good fun, but depending on whether you care, maybe don’t give your teenage kid money for this one?
Oh, wait. DON’T GIVE ANYONE YOUR MONEY FOR THIS ONE.
And in case you did watch The Goldfinch, here’s a reminder that Ansel Elgort can be suave and eccentric at the same time, because he deserves that much.