“The Goldfinch” stars Ansel Elgort, Oakes Fegley, Aneurin Barnard, Finn Wolfhard, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, Jeffrey Wright, and Nicole Kidman. Released on September 13, 2019, the film centers on a young man whose tragic childhood leads him to the world of art forgery.
The film is directed by John Crowley, who also directed films such as “Intermission”, “Boy A”, “Closed Circuit”, and “Brooklyn”. It is based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Donna Tartt. This next film I’ll be looking at today focuses heavily on the drama rather than the fun type of drama because folks, stuff is about to get real. At first, I thought this film is going to be another big awards contender based on the trailer I saw, but after its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last weekend, it surprisingly turned out to be the opposite. However, it didn’t affect my interest in seeing how it turns out in my eyes. As usual, since I haven’t read the book it's based on, I will be looking at it as its own film.
The story centers on Theodore Decker (Elgort), a young man whose mother died in a terrorist bombing when he was a boy. After surviving the bombing, he picked up a painting known as “The Goldfinch” and took it with him everywhere he goes. During his life, he experiences plenty of drama, guilt, and love while still holding on to the painting as his last piece of hope. In short, it’s a film about life and how the main character’s unfortunate childhood moment affected his life. The film's plot was pretty complex and mature, and it offered plenty of moments that are worth paying attention to, such as the flashbacks that center on the young version of Theo (played by Fegley). Going into this film, I was hoping that it will have something that would provide an emotional connection between me and the obstacles that the main character is facing. While it was able to provide that type of something, I’m sad to say that the emotional core of the situation felt completely empty. There were a couple of things that happened to prevent it from being a total buzzkill, such as the cast and the cinematography, but they’re hardly enough to keep me engaged throughout. With a runtime that’s close to two and a half hours long, director John Crowley struggled to maintain its pacing as well as finding a suitable narrative that doesn’t result in a dull and unfocused experience despite his talent behind the camera. I can understand the direction it was going for, but I couldn’t help but feel that it was lacking a specific type of depth that made the other life dramas work. From my personal perspective, I enjoy certain types of dramas that made me feel emotionally connected to the characters and their themes. The ones that made me grow attached to the situations that the characters are encountering themselves. “The Goldfinch” felt like that type of drama, but to me, it tried way too hard to be one, which can come off as troublesome for some reviewers. Going back to the positives, I can easily admit that the actors were able to keep this train moving. I thought Oakes Fegley delivered a well-deserved performance as the young version of Theo and Nicole Kidman was divine as Samantha Barbour. Ansel Elgort was pretty decent in his role as the adult version of Theo. Not as great as his performance in “Baby Driver”, but decent enough for me to admire his acting talent. Even though the film failed to meet its expectations, that doesn’t mean I can look past its gorgeous cinematography by Roger Deakins. Despite a couple of scenes that have questionable editing, the film’s cinematography was able to paint some beautiful pictures on the screen, and let me tell you, they are such eye-openers.
Overall, “The Goldfinch” is a painting that’s pretty to look at, but doesn’t offer anything special underneath its appearance. Despite its talented cast and its impressive cinematography, the film is nothing but an underwhelming and emotionless disappointment from start to finish. It wanted to feel like it belongs in a museum, but in my eyes, it belongs in the trash. If you happen to like it more than I did, then hey, good for you. That’s your opinion. To me, I’m just not feeling this one as much as I hoped.