Entertainment » Movies

The Goldfinch

by Michael  Cox
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Dec 6, 2019
The Goldfinch

There's no telling where a piece of art will take you, the experience of looking at it in person; even though it's just one moment in one day. Like the morning 13-year-old Theodore Decker goes to the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art with his mother, and there he sees Carel Fabritius' tiny painting The Goldfinch for the first time. This painting changes Theo's life forever. Partly because moments after Theo looks at the centuries-old painting a bomb goes off in the museum killing his mother, and partly because he salvages this painting from the ash and debris, puts it into his backpack and steals it.

"The Goldfinch," a film adaptation of Donna Tartt's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, regards art, especially particular pieces, as something precious, magical and even somehow immortal. In many ways this film radiates those qualities of art itself. It's not a perfect film, but it has moments of visual beauty and acting nuance that are spellbinding and imaginatively compelling.

Director John Crowley's previous film "Brooklyn," also an adaptation of a novel, was widely regarded as one of the top films of 2015, scoring big points for its performances and the way it reworked its source material. It takes a director like Crowley to wrangle Tartt's sprawling 800-page book. So much of Tartt's detail and characterization are necessarily absent from this movie. Vast complications and character arcs go unexplained and must be communicated in a mere gesture by the actors. For this reason, the acting in this adaptation draws itself to the fore.

The character of Theo is graciously handled as both a boy and a young man conversely by Oakes Fegley and Ansel Elgort. So much of the story happens with Theo as a boy and Fegley generates marvelous chemistry with his fellow cast members. A few terse scenes establish comprehensive boyhood relationships, and details left unspoken are given fertile ground to sprout within the mind of the audience. Most remarkable is the performance of Nichole Kidman as Samantha Barbour, especially in the early scenes. Kidman plays a wealthy socialite tasked with taking in Theo right after his mother's death. Her performance communicates volumes about an inner life that neither Theo nor we will ever understand, but could ruminate on endlessly.

To appreciate a movie based on a book so Dickensian in its scope, it's sometimes most valuable examine the brushstrokes.

This Blu-ray include two compelling featurettes, one and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie and one a look at Fabritius' painting in particular. There is also an extensive look at some of scenes deleted from the film with the director's explanation as to why this was so.

"The Goldfinch"
Blu-ray $39.97

Comments on Facebook