A great novel might not be the easiest path to a glorious movie.
And Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2014.
Director John Crowley and screenwriter Peter Straughan obviously were devoted to their project a half-decade later.
The CinemaScope is grand. The cast is wonderful. The storytelling … well, it’s a tense drama, this tale of high art, family loss and personal relationships that winds mostly through the eyes, mind and heart of one complex individual.
The pieces are fragile, indeed. The telling must surf time periods to tie the tale together.
Thanks to the three Theos and all the support all around, it works.
Theo Decker is 13 when his mother is killed in an explosion at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. So much unravels and unwinds thereafter. He’s taken in by the wealthy family of a school mate. The chemistry between Oakes Fegley as tightly wound teen Theo and Nicole Kidman as the complex matriarch beats strong throughout.
Other relationships bloom, with Jeffrey Wright equally important and superb as a wise shopkeeper with kind designs.
Stick with it as more people enter and Theo matures. Ansel Elgort’s cranky, anxious and confident sides all soar here.
It’s a complex 2 hours, 29 minutes to get Tartt’s story completely told, for sure.
Two young biys buzz about as Theo holds his secret about that old painting of a bird. Boris, played with the perfect amount to strangeness and empathy by Finn Wolfhard, lends the needed shoulder as Theo’s father, perfectly scattered and can’t-help-himself by Luke Wilson, and stepmother, just-right evil by Sarah Paulson, try lacklusterly to have their short say in the Las Vegas desert.
Ashleigh Cummings and Willa Fitzgerald and pretty great as Pippa and Kitsey, the two true women in Theo’s adult life.
Worth it, this journey is, for sure.