Review: The Goldfinch

Oakes Fegley in The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch, based on the literary best seller by Donna Tartt, recreated the story from the book, but did it without emotion or excitement. The film is 2 1/2 hours of flat performances.

The Goldfinch gathered a cast that should be brilliant and managed to get leaden performances out of most of them. Both Young Theo (Oakes Fegley) and Adult Theo (Ansel Elgort) left viewers in an emotional wasteland with no one to root for.

Beware the spoilers ahead as I attempt to hit some of the high points of this lengthy story.

 Robert Joy, Hailey Wist, Aimee Laurence, and Oakes Fegley in The Goldfinch

The film begins with an explosion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Theo was there with his mother, looking at the famous painting called The Goldfinch. His mother left for a moment. Theo looked at the girl next to him, Young Pippa (Aimee Laurence). He responded to her glance. Then boom.

When he regained consciousness, he couldn’t find his mother. She died in the explosion. The man with Pippa gave him a ring and an address and told him to take The Goldfinch with him.

Theo wrapped up the painting and hid it, telling no one about it. He first went to live with the Balfour family.

Nicole Kidman and Oakes Fegley in The Goldfinch

He settled into the Balfour’s life and bonded with Mrs. Barbour (Nicole Kidman).

Jeffrey Wright and Oakes Fegley in The Goldfinch

He followed the clue of the ring and discovered an antique shop and Hobie (Jeffrey Wright). The girl Pippa was there, too. Pippa was going to Texas to live with a relative soon but had been injured badly in the bombing.

Theo carried his thing for Pippa into adulthood. But Adult Pippa (Ashleigh Cummings) was attached to someone else by then.

Jeffrey Wright, who is always wonderful, was the best part of this tedious tale. At least he seemed real and alive. Hobie was the one who best articulated what the loss of The Goldfinch meant to the world.

Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, and Oakes Fegley in The Goldfinch

Theo’s long absent father Larry (Luke Wilson) showed up with a girlfriend named Xandra (Sarah Paulson). They were obviously after whatever money might be attached to Theo after his mother’s death. He father took him away to Las Vegas.

In Vegas, Theo met Young Boris (Finn Wolfhard), a world-weary teen who taught him to drink and snort pills. They spent many drunken, high as a kite, hours together.

When Theo’s father again proved unreliable, Theo took off and ran back to Hobie for shelter. He retained his taste for booze and pills. A gift from Boris.

Theo grew up into an antiques dealer and was living a fairly ordered life when Adult Boris (Aneurin Barnard) appeared. He told Theo something Theo should have known since he left Las Vegas, but didn’t.

The knowledge blew up Theo’s life. He and Boris undertook a dangerous expedition to Germany to set things right. The ending came quickly after this with a kind of Agatha Christie “let me tell you what happened” conclusion.

The thing that irritated me most about this film was Theo’s trauma. He suffered so much as a kid. It was glossed over. Everything was glossed over. The film had no heart. A great cast with a hollow interior.

The Goldfinch poster

Take a look at the trailer

Have you watched this film? Were you disappointed by it as well?

Author: Virginia DeBolt

After many years as an educator and writer, Virginia retired from working life. She's always loved a good movie or TV show and wants to use her free time to talk about them with you now. She's Old Ain't Dead!

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