THE GOLDFINCH (Der Distelfink) **** (4 Stars)
- Opening: September 26, 2019
- USA 2019
- Directed by: John Crowley
- Writing Credits: Peter Straughan, Donna Tartt
- Principal Actors: Oakes Fegley, Ansel Elgort, Finn Wolfhard, Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson
Theo (Oakes Fegley as young Theo, Ansel Elgort as adult) survives a terrorist attack at the Metropolitan museum in New York that kills his mother. In the midst of the chaos immediately after the explosion, a dying man gives Theo his ring to return to his family and makes him take a painting from the rubble – The Goldfinch.
Due to unfortunate circumstances, Theo is forced to move out west to Las Vegas. The desert, of all places, so symbolic mirroring the emptiness inside and outside.
The developing friendship to Boris (Finn Wolfhard), just as much lost in this world as Theo is, turns out to be a blessing and curse at the same time, when Theo is led to alcohol and drugs to pass the time in the void of suburban Las Vegas. From there all the way back to New York, still in mourning and full of guilt for his mother’s death, now all grown up Theo has only one thing that gives him stability: the secret of the painting.
Based on the 2014 Pulitzer prize-winning novel of the same title by Donna Tartt, The Goldfinchis a beautiful composition of human emotions in picturesque scenes. However, like most book-to-screen adaptations, lovers of the novel might find flaws in this film, for example, the chronology needs focus to keep up with.
Yet, looking at it without prior knowledge of the book, The Goldfinch is a fascinating coming-of-age tale, portraying the relationships between the characters so touching that I got goose bumps. I felt the longing for stability Theo must have experienced and wished him all the best in life, after it seemed so unfair to him. But life isn’t fair, is it?
With the magnificent cast and carefully picked staging (and wardrobe) of each and every scene, The Goldfinch guarantees to linger for longer than the final credits.