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As I was reading the book several years ago, the whole way through I kept thinking what a great movie it would make in the right hands. The problem in my mind would be how get the depth of all the complex characters from the page to the screen and not have the movie be too long to sit through. This was fabulous. On every count. Theo was right there, just as I knew him on the page. Some of the storylines were a bit truncated, such as his temporary stint with the Barbour family, but it didn’t matter because you got the feel of it all. Boris too, and Hobie. I loved the final scene. I really truly hope this move does not go unnoticed by the Academy. It is one of the best movies I have seen in years. In the end I think, it’s about redemption. Accepting the unacceptable as “just life”. And who doesn’t love a story about how to forgive yourself? Give yourself a Christmas present and watch The Goldfinch. You’ll feel both elevated and enriched. I promise.
Reviewed in the United States on September 15, 2019
“The Goldfinch” Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, 149 Minutes, Rated R, Released September 13, 2019:
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning 2013 novel by author Donna Tartt, “The Goldfinch” has everything a $45 million budget can buy. Adapted from Tartt’s novel by author and playwright Peter Straughan and directed by award-winning filmmaker John Crowley, “The Goldfinch” has class, pedigree, and production values to spare: Beautifully photographed and nicely acted, especially by supporting performers Jeffrey Wright and Nicole Kidman, the picture is also unremittingly bleak...and almost torturously dull. With a running time of 149 minutes, it’s almost lethal.
In “The Goldfinch,” 13-year-old Theo Decker survives a terrorist bombing at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The explosion kills his mother, but in the confusion following the catastrophe the boy spirits away the valuable 1654 Carel Fabritius painting ‘The Goldfinch.” With no family nearby and a roguish absentee father, Theo is placed temporarily with the emotionally remote family of his nerdish friend Andy, becoming especially close with Andy’s mother, Samantha.
Just as it seems as if Theo’s going to be adopted by Andy’s family, his estranged father Larry emerges in the company of a new girlfriend and reclaims Theo, relocating the blended family to Las Vegas. Some eight years later, the now-adult Theo returns with his stolen painting to New York City and renews an acquaintance with a man named Hobie, the owner of an arts and antiques shop whom he originally met through his former foster mother Samantha. Theo eventually goes to work as a sales associate in Hobie’s shop, and eventually drifts into the lucrative but highly illegal world of art forgery.
In a way, “The Goldfinch” is a kind of an upscale modern day version of the works of Charles Dickens, with Theo as an updated blend of Dickens’ David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, and Pip from “Great Expectations.” But instead of featuring Dickens’ compelling narrative plot twists, and eventual optimistic resolution, “The Goldfinch” is genteel to the point of inertia, gliding over the course of its mammoth running time to the inevitable conclusion that life is unpredictable, mysterious and sad, and crime doesn’t pay. And likely you already knew all that.
The picture’s primary problem is than in condensing Donna Tartt’s 784-page novel into a motion picture, screenwriter Straughan attempted to preserve each obscure nuance and unnecessary plot twist. The result is a sense of objective detachment, viewer apathy...and eventual boredom. What was alive and compelling in Tartt’s novel becomes uninvolving and aloof on the screen. As a result, the motion picture version of “The Goldfinch” is of marginal interest only to those viewers who enjoyed the novel, and those who need to catch up on their sleep. Others beware.
“The Goldfinch” is receiving mostly unencouraging reviews from the critics, including an approval rating of just 25% from Rotten Tomatoes and a slightly higher weighted average of 41% from Metacritic. Exit audiences polled by CinemaScore assign the picture an average grade of B. Originally projected by distributor Warner Bros. Pictures to gross up to $8 million during its opening weekend, “The Goldfinch” after a dismal opening scored only $2.64 million, just enough to score an unimpressive ninth place finish in the week’s Box Office Mojo Top Ten.
Also starring Luke Wilson, Sarah Paulson, Ashleigh Cummings, Willa Fitzgerald, and Ansel Elgort as the adult Theo, “The Goldfinch” is rated R for drug use and language concerns.
For some reason this movie seems to have riled people up during its theatrical run. I loved it. I read the book when it came out, and my partner read the book just last month, and we both thought this adaptation was terrific. Of course so Dickensian a story could easily have supported a limited series, and of course that’s what you might wish for, but the movie was an artful distillation of the key settings and relationships that captured the spirit of the book. Made me want to read the book AND see the movie again—I count both of them among my favorites. (And if you are reading this and are the person who also bought Woman at War—I have it too! Another great movie!)
I waited a long time to see the film when it was released it stayed in theater's like two days got panned and disappeared. I just watched it and thought it was a good re-telling of the book which I loved. The Goldfinch painting is what drew me to the book as I had been in the Hauge to a small museum The Mauritshuis to see "The Girl with the Pearl Earing by Vermeer and there as I was walking was this small painting The Goldfinch, I knew the story and was taken by it small size and beauty. Though the novel didn't dwell on the painting it did weave the tale of the artist and its survival into the story of a young boy with mountains to overcome in his life. The actors and director work was to bring to the screen this original story rich in art and life and though critics did damage the film got a 5 star from me. and is one I will watch again and I recommend it highly.
For a movie to succeed, it must be about something. Lots of movies these days aren't about anything. You leave thinking-- what was that al about? This movie, The Goldfinch, is supposed to be about a boy who loves a painting that his mom loves that they see at the Metropolitan Museum of Art just before a bomb goes off killing the mom leaving the boy just fine but where is the painting? You get the idea.
The director throws in some things like a bad drunk dad (Luke Wilson) snorting of pills with a bad Russian accent guy in Las Vegas plus an acid trip returning to New York City and much more with girls who are very disloyal plus the always reliable Nicole Kidman. You understand.
In the end, you look at your watch with two hours gone asking what happened to my time and how do I get a refund for my lost time it's too much. You see what I mean.
It's totally too bad that there is no machine that can refund your two hours back and return such important lost time to your biological clock you understand. Perfectly clear.
yes, I should have read the novel and yes yes yes I should have trusted the review on rottentomatoes as they were right. By the end, I had to check out and did not finish watching this, which is unheard of from me. As one of the reviewers said: an exercise in tedium and detachment, which is in spite of the great performances by the boy who plays Theo, who is brilliant. What a shame. Nicole Kidman, BTW, please get a handle on the plastic surgery, as well executed as it is. Woah.