We first meet Theo Decker (Ansel Elgort) holed up in an Amsterdam hotel, about to take his life, whose story since childhood unfolds through flashbacks in layers of bad decisions and sudden betrayals. Young Theo (Oakes Fegley) life shattered one day on a visit with his Mom to an art museum where she perished as a result of a terrorist attack. In the aftermath, among the masterpieces, one priceless 17th-century oil painting goes missing. What happened to the The Goldfinch and how does its disappearance follow Theo across America through his youth?
The Goldfinch has one of the best acting ensembles of the season. Each one bringing A+ intense characterization to a story as complex and crazy as this story as it unravels onscreen. Elgort is inhabiting the role of a lifetime, while exhibiting both the charm and darker shadows that have been earmarks of his career. Kidman is creepily compelling (in a good way) and Jeffrey Wright is an actor whose work I’m always excited to witness, as he consistently brings humanity and complex realism as Hobie. The supporting cast – Finn Wolfhard, Sarah Paulson and a despicable Luke Wilson — turn up as characters who complicate Theo’s jagged path within an inch of his life – literally.
Gorgeously shot by the legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, the film is given appropriate polish to its high-stakes, high-crime story and John Crowley’s direction provides complex undercurrents giving its audience delicious entertainment.
Having said that, I feel like this adaptation of Donna Tartt’s award-winning best seller, doesn’t really pick up steam until close to the final act. Clocking in at nearly 2 1/2 hours, that’s way too long to expect to an audience to hang in there for the ultimate payoff. The Goldfinch has one of the best acting ensembles of the season. Each one bringing A+ intense characterization to a story as complex and crazy as this story as it unravels onscreen.