Review: The Goldfinch (15)

Anna Marczynska reviews the adaptation of Donna Tart's 2013 bestseller.

Anna Marczynska
9th October 2019
Image: YouTube
This film is an adaptation of a very successful novel, with the same title, by Donna Tartt. As someone who has not read the novel I can’t say much about how different they are from each other. However, it's fans have been very vocal about how much they hate this adaptation and so does almost everyone else, it seems.

It is about about a boy, Theo, who loses his mother in a bombing of a gallery and the only thing that survives from that day is a painting of a goldfinch. Noah keeps the painting with him wherever life takes him.

The Goldfinch is the first movie that John Crowley directed after his much praised Brooklyn (2015), which in truth set a very high bar for his next film but with this one he just doesn’t even seem to try. The plot jumps from place to place, there are characters appearing and disappearing but you don't get to miss them. The problem is that the titular goldfinch painting gets mentioned so sporadically, you forget about its existence and the movie does little to tell why is it so important.

"This is a story about a boy with so many misfortunes, so much loss. But the performances are just distractedly terrible."

Not only the direction was confusing, it was also the acting that made it hard to connect with the story. Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver), who portrays the main character Noah, is not able to carry this movie. He just does not have the ability to make the audience care about what his character is going through. This is a story about a boy with so many misfortunes, so much loss. But the performances are just distractedly terrible. At one point young Noah makes friends with Boris, a boy from Ukraine, who is played by Finn Wolfhard, whose Russian accent mainly is about him starting every line with “Ha!”.

It’s not all bad though. Set design is impeccably done by K.K. Barrett (Marie Antoinette), whose attention to detail made you forget for a second that nothing else makes sense in this movie. Another person this movie doesn't deserve is Sarah Paulson (Carol), who had seemed to enjoy playing the trashy stepmother as much as I enjoyed watching her. However, one good performance is not enough  to recommend this film to anyone.

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  1. The “boy” is named Theodore “Theo” Decker in the book and the movie. That’s not a mistake that can be made by someone who is the least bit invested in the story and makes it hard to believe that this is an authentic review of the film more than a literature review. The movie, even as an adaptation, is more on point than this review.

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