When the negative reviews started rolling in for The Goldfinch a few weeks ago, I was pretty bummed. You’re telling me I read an 800 page long book for this shit?
Just kidding, I obviously read the book for the sake of reading something by Donna Tartt, an author I’ve admired since The Secret History! Still, I did wait until a few months before the film’s release to finally cross the 2013 novel off of my TBR list. If there’s anything good to come out of this movie’s existence, its that it gave me — and a lot of other people, I’m sure — an excuse to read a novel which, despite its page count and intimidating Pulitzer prize-winning status, is an utterly absorbing read. So, yeah, I went into the theater having adored the book, which already put the movie at a disadvantage. However, I am by no means a stickler when it comes to adaptations. Honestly, I’d rather a film cut more from the plot if it’ll make the story work better on screen. Faithfulness to source material and quality of an adaptation are not mutually exclusive.
In director John Crowley’s The Goldfinch, most of the elements of novel actually do remain intact, if condensed for the sake of time. But the film falls short over and over again in a way that’s hard to define, except to say what many reviews already have: it feels flat. For me, the reason comes down to one important misstep, and that’s the way this film handles the relationship between Theo and his mother.
(Minor spoilers for the book & film ahead.) Read More