Roger Thomas Film Review: ‘The Goldfinch’: A film that challenges, but never satisfies

Published 11:03 am Friday, September 20, 2019

In the beginning of “The Goldfinch,” a young boy in New York named Theo Decker goes to live with a wealthy family on the Upper East Side after his mother is killed in a terrorist explosion in a museum. The young boy also experiences the explosion.

Throughout the film the explosion repeats in young Theo’s mind and the audience.

Roger Thomas

Those moments in the museum are a horric scene shown throughout the film as Theo is looking back to that moment of horror.

Theo’s new life brings many changes. He now lives with a big family in a big home in New York City.

The first part of the film is about Theo adjusting to this new life. The family that has taken Theo in has some different ways of living. But more changes are in store for this young boy.

After a few years with Theo’s foster family, there is a second major phase in his life. Theo goes to live with his father and the father’s wife in Texas. Theo’s father and stepmother are not the best parents.

Actually, they are not even good to each other.

But Theo does meet Boris (Finn Wolfhard) in Texas and they become friends.

The third phase of Theo’s life happens when he becomes an adult and comes back to New York. He gets a job working at an antique store for books and other items.

All of this might sound great and appealing in a story. And parts of it are compelling. The boy who plays young Theo does a fine performance and he has a lot of situations to show his abilities in the craft of acting.

The actor is played by Oakes Fegley. That is one actor to watch. He is the best element of the film.
There are other actors who do fine work. Luke Wilson plays Theo’s dad, Jeffrey Wright plays Hobie, a family friend, and Sarah Paulson plays Xandra. One of the most elegant actresses of our time,

Nicole Kidman, is as kind and graceful as she almost always is.

The casting of all these actors, or at least most of them, is quite good. The problem of the film is that it meanders most of the time. The story is not going ahead, it just gets to a point and then churns the same point over and over.

The scenes in Texas are the worst elements. The only interesting elements of that part of the film are when Theo meets Boris.

By the way, Ansel Elgort plays the adult Theo, but nothing in his performance stands out.

Overall the film just does not capture anything. It told a story, but not one that is appealing. The broken timeline may have hindered the story.

Perhaps if all the story was told straight without injections from the past and the future, the film might have worked better. However, most likely the story would not appeal to many who seek it out.

There are much better films in the theaters these days than “The Goldfinch.”

Roger W. Thomas of Albemarle reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.