September 13, 2019

The Goldfinch is in theaters on September 13th, 2019.

"The Goldfinch" is the film adaptation of Donna Tartt's globally acclaimed bestseller of the same name, which won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and spent more than 30 weeks on The New York Times Best Sellers list. 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.

Before I jump into this review, I must give a little backstory. I saw the trailer for this film back in May and I was highly anticipating this movie. I am a huge fan of Ansel Elgort (previously seen in The Fault in Our Stars and Baby Driver) and this film just looked like a beautiful, artsy, coming of age story full of emotion and tragedy. So I was very ready to like this film, but what John Crowley (previously directed Closed Circuit and Brooklyn) delivered was a complete disaster.

Starting from the very beginning of the film, it feels incredibly realistic. And the cinematography pared with the tone is great. However, after about fifteen minutes of screentime, I felt like nothing was going on and found myself pretty bored with an uneventful first act. Once the second act came in, more was happening, but I was just not invested. Finally when the third act started, as Theo finds himself getting lost, the audience was even more lost. I had to take some time to think about what was really the issue with this film and its story structure. Characters and themes are introduced constantly, but get little to no pay off. And when new characters are introduced, they just disappear, to possibly reappear for a little bit and you find out they were actually super important to the story. It just comes off incredibly sloppy and leaves viewers having trouble trying to emotionally connect and resonate with the film.

The pacing is also quite a big issue with the film. Especially in the first act. It just keeps feeling like the film is slowly trotting along. And it is hard to relate with both adult Theo and his child version because it consistently makes you forget about the other timeline. That is a major issue. There is also some strange humor in this film, that takes you out of it because it does not fit the mood of the story.

Now it is hard to give this film positives, because everything I started to invest in was just taken away from me in twenty minutes. But to give this film some praise, I really enjoyed the character of Boris played by both Finn Wolfhard (previously seen in Stranger Things and IT) and Aneurin Barnard (previously seen in Dunkirk and Cilla). Both actors gave good performances and because of the characters edge, it felt like something interesting was always happening when Boris was present. Luke Wilson (previously seen in Old School and Brad’s Status) did a great job playing a really messed up father. It really showed his range.

To conclude this review, this film really reminded me of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. There were a lot of good ideas going for it. But during those writing room meetings, too many were picked out and it resulted in an incoherent story structure. Really one of the biggest disappointments of the year for me, but we still have four more months of the awards season, so let's hope have some hits!

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Cabell Cabell (Senior Contributor) is a filmmaker from Tampa, Florida. He will watch just about any film but when he's not reviewing the latest hits he spends time directing films of his own.
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