13-year old Theo Decker (Oakes Fegley) and his mother Audrey (Hailey Wist) are visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art when a terrorist bomb explodes. The explosion leaves his mother dead. Surrounded by debris and dead bodies, Theo does two things that will have long term ramifications. He comforts a dying old man who gives him a ring and asks him to deliver it to his business partner, Hobie (Jeffrey Wright). He also spontaneously cuts “The Goldfinch” from its frame and steals it.
With Theo’s dad Larry (Luke Wilson) unable to be located, he stays with the family of a school friend. During that time, the mother of that family, Mrs. Barbour (Nicole Kidman), takes a particular interest in him. He also locates Hobie and reconnects with Pippa, a girl he saw at the museum. Theo is just beginning to settle into his new life when his estranged father arrives from Las Vegas to bring him to live with him and his girlfriend Xandra (Sarah Paulson).
Interspersed with these scenes from Theo’s childhood are scenes a decade in the future. Now an adult, Theo (Ansel Elgort) is now an antiques dealer. Based in New York, he makes a good living and has a pretty fiancé. However, his drug addiction and ambivalence about his theft of “The Goldfinch” casts a pall over everything.
I haven’t read Donna Tartt’s book, so I can’t compare it to the cinematic version. It seems as though screenwriter Peter Straughan and director John Crowley jumped around in time in an effort to blunt the traumatic aspects of the story. Thus, giving the impression that Theo overcame at least some of his problems. Unfortunately, given the film’s two-and-a-half-hour running time, I found myself exhausted, just trying to follow it all. The two sides of the story fail to connect in any meaningful way.
A big problem is the one note performance of Ansel Elgort as the adult Theo Decker. Better suited to the role is Oakes Fegley, who as the young Theo has a heavier emotional load to carry. The supporting characters range from good (Is Nicole Kidman everywhere these days? and Jeffrey Wright) to odd (Sarah Paulson) to bad (Luke Wilson is miscast as Larry and Finn Wolfhard is saddled with a horrible Russian accent.)
Despite a strong cast, The Goldfinch offers little to recommend. The story drags and we don’t get a real sense of what makes the characters tick and the story lacks a soul.
Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, this 1080p transfer is satisfactory. Overall sharpness is solid. A couple of wide shots looked slightly soft, but other than that, the presentation is accurate and detailed. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred. Colors appeared positive throughout. Blacks are dark and deep. Viewers should be very pleased with the image.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is fine, if simplistic. The soundfield is largely focused on music and ambience, though it opened up during the terrorist attack and occasionally during Street scenes. Dialogue is clear, clean and concise throughout. Music offers good clarity and range and effects are reasonably accurate when they appear.
English, English SDH, Spanish, French and Portuguese subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- The Goldfinch Unbound (HD, 12:54) Director John Crowley, producers Brad Simpson and Nina Jacobson, production designer KK Barrett, and actors Sarah Paulson, Jeffrey Wright, Luke Wilson, Aneurin Barnard, Ansel Elgort, Finn Wolfhard, Oakes Fegley and Nicole Kidman all comment in this featurette that deals with the novel and it’s adaptation, casting, performances, location and photography.
- The Real Goldfinch (HD, 8:38) Many of the cast and crew from above, return to discuss how the real artwork was replicated for the film.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 16:59) 11 deleted scenes with introductions from John Crowley.
- Digital Code.
The Goldfinch (2019)
Movie title: The Goldfinch
Duration: 149 min,
Director(s): John Crowley
Actor(s): Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson , Luke Kleintank , Ansel Elgort, Finn Wolfhard , Jeffrey Wright