The Goldfinch Movie Review: A missed opportunity

Published: Sep 20, 2019, 13:48 IST | Johnson Thomas |

The Goldfinch is the title of the painting that was on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art that Theo Decker and his mother were visiting, at the time when Terrorists struck

Goldfinch still/picture courtesy: YouTube
Goldfinch still/picture courtesy: YouTube

Film: The Goldfinch
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson
Director: John Crowley
Writer: Peter Straughan
Rating: rating
Runtime: 149 min

John Crowley's "The Goldfinch," maybe an epic effort to adapt Donna Tartt's Pulitzer Prize winner but the film fails to get friendly with the true essence and heart of that telling. The plotting is pretty much faithful but the treatment leaves a lot to be desired.

Tartt's book is a nuanced, descriptive experience about the human condition when sudden trauma and grief derail life's trajectory but Crowley's film doesn't appear to get that.

The mechanics may be the same but there's quite a bit missing here. The Goldfinch is the title of the painting that was on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art that Theo Decker and his mother were visiting, at the time when Terrorists struck. Theo (Oakes Fegley as the younger 13 years old before Ansel Elgort takes over) who was left orphaned by the attack( his father is MIA), had taken the painting of the tiny bird chained to its perch, as a memento of that gruesome moment. The painting that had survived for centuries, eventually becomes the one tangible piece of hope in Theo's odyssey of grief, guilt, reinvention and redemption while caught between two worlds – one of Hobie (Jeffrey Wright), an antiques shop owner whose partner had given him a ring before succumbing to that unfortunate terrorist strike and the other represented by a matriarch(Nicole Kidman) of the upper class family who takes him in.

Watch the trailer of The Goldfinch here:

While the book was strong on character development and focussed on chance as formative conditioning that shapes the character and attitude of a person, the script for the film fails to underline it. Peter Straughan's screenplay prefers to tick off the boxes rather than present a convincing or fulfilling experience. The philosophical dimension is entirely lost in the fictitious adaptation and even the performances (especially by Ansel Elgort) don't hold any weight. The production values are spiffy, the detailing in décor and wardrobe is appreciable but it's certainly not enough to convince an educated audience. Even the otherwise faultless Nicole Kidman appears to have lost her way here. There's nothing deep or invigorating here.

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