Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Goldfinch: Well Done Pultizer Prize Winning Fiction of Depth

Movie Review: The Goldfinch (2019)
Version: Amazon Prime

Based on the 2013 Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name, The Goldfinch is the spellbinding tale of a boy haunted by the death of his mother in a terrorist bombing of a New York City art museum and the painting that connects him to it.

The film features a delicate weave of layers between today and yesterday, of young, innocent Theo Decker (Oakes Fegley) and today's scheming Theo (Ansel Elgort), mastering a deeply held secret that he is somehow at fault for his mother's death. He takes that feeling of guilt with him into adulthood and his friendships, ever afraid to fail others and to lose the painting he secretly rescues from the bombed museum but ultimately fails to return to its rightful owners, even as it imperils him later. The name of the painting, which has survived centuries of devastation of its own, is "The Goldfinch"

Theo Decker is an amazing character, but he plays against an interesting array of side characters, too, to make The Goldfinch a compelling watch. There is the family that brings him into its fold when he is first orphaned, shepherded by his school friend's mother Mrs. Barbour (Nicole Kidman). At first he's a nuisance, but they come to like and then accept him as one of their own. Nicole Kidman somehow seems kind of creepy in the role. Then there's Theo's deadbeat dad Larry (Luke Wilson), who just as the Barbours are about to adopt Theo shows up to take him to Las Vegas to chew him up and spit him out over his own failings. The most endearing characters are Hobie (Jeffrey Wright), the antique store owner who finds a place in his heart and a room in his home for a lost Theo, not to mention a place for the future, and Boris (Finn Wolfhard in youth, Aneurin Barnard as adult), who is Theo's best friend. They make the story come to life and ultimately help Theo free "The Goldfinch" and Theo.

There are many surprises in this film, not the least comes at the end. Tying all the pieces together is done masterfully, but you have to be patient watching the timelines shift back and forth, although The Goldfinch does a better job at this than most films featuring flashbacks and flash forwards. Be patient -- it is worth it. I promise, it will be worth it.

I can see why the book won a Pulitzer for fiction. I'll be reading the book as soon as I can get my hands on it. This is a great story and the movie is worth viewing. Well done!

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