Review: ‘The Goldfinch’ lacks polish

Author:
Sat, 2020-05-23 17:39

LONDON: There’s always an element of risk in
adapting beloved literary works. So director John Crowley at least
deserves credit for being brave enough to take on a big-screen
version of Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer-winning 2014 novel “The
Goldfinch,†which topped the “New York Times†bestseller list
for more than 30 weeks.

With an exciting ensemble cast including Ansel Elgort, Jeffrey
Wright, Nicole Kidman, Luke Wilson and Sarah Paulson, it seemed the
Irish director had all the ingredients needed to breathe cinematic
life into Tartt’s coming-of-age opus.

Sadly, though, this adaptation of “The Goldfinch†is a
muddled, meandering movie that repeatedly loses all sense of
momentum thanks to its ill-timed chronological jumps. The story’s
central character, Theo Decker (played as an adult by Elgort and as
a teenager by Oakes Fegley) survives the terrorist bombing of an
art gallery in which his mother is killed and, with his father
having abandoned him when he was younger, the 13-year-old finds a
home with the family of one of his school friends. The film
chart’s Theo’s life growing up in New York, a spell with his
alcoholic dad in Las Vegas, and his subsequent return to the Big
Apple — all while, as it transpires, he keeps secret the fact
that he swiped the titular painting during the aftermath of the
explosion.

Leapfrogging between Theo’s adult and teenage years means his
past (including his motivation for pocketing the work of art) is
doled out in bite-size amounts and, in theory, reinforces his
status as an unreliable narrator. It also makes the film more
discombobulating, as developed plot threads and slowly established
characterizations are sundered by sudden jumps backwards and
forwards. The cast does its best — Wright as Theo’s mentor and
business partner brings a quiet vulnerability to his role, Kidman
is sufficiently doting as Theo’s almost-foster mother and Elgort
revels in Theo’s damaged adulthood — but “The Goldfinchâ€
dawdles too long in some places and roars ahead unwisely in
others.

On the plus side, the film looks stunning, with shots expertly
framed with precision worthy of the antique scene that’s
portrayed. But with such a disconcerting tendency to unnecessarily
confound, it makes for a movie that’s tough to settle into.

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Source: FS – All – Interesting – News
Review: ‘The Goldfinch’ lacks polish