The Goldfinch is not even a film for those who love a slow burner, because whoever set the room up forgot to turn the gas on
Those who baulk at the idea of a two and a half hour long adaptation of a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, with a jumpy timeline and no general structure, should be forgiven. If novels are still being labelled as ‘unfilmable’, maybe The Goldfinch should be added to the list, because the idea of sitting through another session of the story, that clearly hasn’t transferred to the screen well, at all, does not spread joy like an Easter Bunny in April. The Goldfinch is not even a film for those who love a slow burner, because whoever set the room up forgot to turn the gas on.
Theo (Ansel Engort) lives as an antique dealer in upstate New York, haunted by one moment of his childhood. The death of his mother in an explosion at an art gallery changed Theo’s view of the world, and his place in it, leaving him reeling from the event. Moved about constantly as a child, Theo never feels comfortable, often aided only by a painting, The Goldfinch, he found intact in the bomb’s aftermath, even though it probably should not still be in his possession.
Beautifully shot, and littered with the most wonderful cast, The Goldfinch has all of the tools it needed to take awards and hearts with a story of genuine loss and recovery. But using those tools seems to have been far harder than everyone had expected, leaving an unravelling length of string on the floor, that everyone can see, but no one can do anything about.
It’s a drab set of scenes surrounded by ideas, often planting themselves on screen when a character tells us they are there, rather than showing it instead. The Goldfinch has unimaginable aspirations, and hats off to it for that, but it’s clear from the outset that this was a mammoth task to transfer to the screen, and gusto doesn’t seem to have been enough to propel it onward.
It’s loose, and often unappealing, The Goldfinch isn’t the film it promised to be, and when that realisation comes to fruition fairly early on in the run time, the remaining reel of film becomes a waiting game, which is never good for something so needlessly long.
p.s. To give it some perspective, The Goldfinch is only four minutes shorter than Apocalypse Now…
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