Movie Review: The Goldfinch

Jeremy Crabb, Reporter

       “The Goldfinch” is the film adaptation of the nearly 800-page novel by Donna Tartt of the same name, and you can certainly feel its source material’s fingerprints all over the final product, in both a positive and negative way. The film is overstuffed, trying to fit so much into an already lengthy 149-minute runtime that it sometimes loses sight of its characters in the process; but for the most part, the film works as a whole, with the help of some stellar performances and magnificent cinematography from legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins (“Blade Runner 2049,” “Sicario”).

       The film’s main character, Theo (played by relative newcomer, Oakes Fegley), is at times very overwritten, and for much of the first act, he doesn’t really feel like a kid his age. He is very into classical music and art, so naturally he is going to be slightly more mature than an average kid of his age, but the way he is written he feels like a 40-something man trapped in the body of a 13-year-old kid. This is until he meets the character of Boris (played excellently by Finn Wolfhard of “Stranger Things” and “It” fame) who lights a spark of charisma that changes both Theo’s life and the film’s dour interior, and is a symbol of levity for both the character of Theo and the audience for a large part of the film. The two young actors work magnificently off of each other, and it is from the character of Boris that the film really begins to find its footing, and I began to quite like the character of Theo, becoming much more invested in his emotional journey than I had been previously in the film.

      With that being said, “The Goldfinch” does tend to bite off more than it can chew, with many plot points feeling forced and some having little to no resolution, and while that is certainly the biggest issue with the film, it is also a strength of the film, as it shows how hectic Theo’s life has become since the tragic death of his mother at the beginning of the film by a terrorist bombing in an art museum he and his mother were attending. I was very invested in his emotional journey as a character, and while the third act involving a grown-up Theo (played by “Baby Driver” star and teen heart-throb, Ansel Elgort) does feel very rushed and underdeveloped, the conclusion was mostly satisfying.

       As a whole, “The Goldfinch” is a very flawed and messy film, particularly with its structure and pacing, but it’s one that I can still recommend for the talent on display and a (mostly) compelling narrative.

GRADE: 3/5