Sometimes things don’t translate across mediums…
The Goldfinch was a chaotic mess of a book that translates into an overlong, maudlin filled ride of nonsense and ham-handed drama.
Theodore “Theo” Decker (Ansel Elgort) was 13 years old when his mother was killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The tragedy changes the course of his life, sending him on a stirring odyssey of grief and guilt, reinvention and redemption, and even love. Through it all, he holds on to one tangible piece of hope from that terrible day…a painting of a tiny bird chained to its perch. The Goldfinch.
I’ll grant this is a very pretty looking film (with Roger Deakins behind the camera as cinematographer how can it not) but a Pulitzer Prize winning novel does not a quality film make and The Goldfinch ends up as self indulgent nonsense with some quality actors trying way too hard to make it all work.
Director John Crowley is certainly a skilled hand but this massive book (much like Winter’s Tale) simply defies adapting for the big screen and screenwriter Peter Straughan just isn’t up for the task as the narrative is all over the map.
Ansel Elgort plays it like a neurotic mess and the young man (Oakes Fegley) who was the younger version of himself puts in better character work. With the likes of Jeffrey Wright, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, Finn Wolfhard and Aneurin Barnard chewing the scenery behind him, only Nicole Kidman stood out in a strong performance.
Simply put, The Goldfinch shouldn’t have been tried as there was just too much going on making it all feel messy and chaotic…wait until a cable network or streaming service adapts it into a 6 part series in 15 years from now…maybe then it will work, but for now The Goldfinch needs to go back on the shelf.