The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch ★★½

Ok hear me out here.

The Goldfinch was a disappointing movie. I remember when the trailers came out for this, the hype was immense. It was kinda mid-way through the year and at that point, this movie seemed like a sure fire awards season slam dunk. It had a stacked cast, a director who's previous film was up for best Picture, it was based on an acclaimed book, Deakins was making it all look extra good. Everything seemed like it was lining up for this to be a successful drama that played well with audiences and critics and would win a bunch of awards....

And then it opened at TIFF...

The reviews were insanely overwhelmingly negative, which shocked the hell out of me. I mean I wasn't expecting it to be a masterpiece, at worst I thought it'd get a resounding "meh", but it kept getting super low scores with critics and on Letterboxd, with the occasional positive review every now and then.
All of this made me even more excited to see it. Would I agree with the majority of TIFF and call it out for being a bloated mess, or would I have a big ol' hot take and actually really enjoy it? And the answer is!!!....

It's ok.

It's by no means a masterpiece and I completely, completely get the flaws people have with it, but in the end I though the stuff that did work managed to make it all even out.

The editing is in fact a complete shambles. It's the worst editing I've seen all year, both on a scene by scene level and through the overall pacing of the film. The film cuts between young and old Theo, which is fine, but it's so inconsistent with it that it feels so jarring whenever it swaps over. And scene by scene it's all cut together where you lose a sense of place and time. It's confusing, annoying and pretty unnecessary.

As well, the two time periods aren't evenly matched in quality. Young Theo’s storyline feels way more interesting and fleshed out than Adult Theo. Not only is the story far more emotionally gripping in how it plays out, but the character relationships are far better established, as well as a pretty decent performance from Young Theo Oakes Fegley.
The older segments does have its moments, but ultimately it really doesn't build on the character relationships that got so much focus in the child segments. The time jump really doesn't help because we just get thrown into these relationships years later and they're suddenly not as fleshed out as they could've been. I’d put this down to the original book having more time to establish these characters and the movie is trying to condense all of that into 2 hours 30 (which by the way, is also an issue cause it's overly bloated and yet doesn't do enough)

But like I said though, overall I don't think it's awful, it's still got a decent amount going for it. The performances are fairly decent. Nobody is completely killing it, but there's a range of great performances going on here. I mean yeah, Finn Wolfhard’s russian accent is… on the level of Robert Pattinson's French accent in The King, but like in that movie, he's by far the most enjoyable character.

Cinematography obviously BANGS. Deakins is able to just bring out so much beauty and depth to the frames he shoots. He elevates this movies visuals, which could've been super bland looking, and made it a visually appealing, gorgeous looking movie.
The score is also really lovely too. It's very warm, it's emotionally evoking, it's just an all round solid score.

I also did find myself liking the connection between Theo and The Goldfinch painting, how it's a reflection on his grief and pain and how it stands as a sign of beauty amongst so much tragedy. I liked that thematic element, I just wish it was presented in a movie that was a little more tightly structured to make those themes hit a lot harder than they could've.

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