Movie Review: The Goldenfinch
Sep 24, 2019 09:37AM
By Missy Ruzicka
I knew this month’s movie was based on a book because I had seen Book Clubs on Facebook get
very excited for one of their favorite books to move to the big screen. I have not read this
Pulitzer Prize winning book by Donna Tartt yet, so I cannot tell you how faithful the movie is to
the beloved book, but not all books that are made into movies are bad. Percy Jackson being a
noted exception, great book, terrible movie.
“The Goldfinch” is a beautiful but sad painting that has survived a terrorist bombing of the
Metropolitan Art Museum in New York only to be taken by a young survivor of the same attack,
Theodore Decker. While doing research for this article I was surprised to find out that “The
Goldfinch” painting is real, and also has an amazing history. The painting that serves as the title
of this month’s cinematic adventure was painted in 1654 by Dutch painter Carel Fabritius. In
mid-October 1654, the small town of Delft, which is located in the western Netherlands, was
nearly destroyed when a gunpowder warehouse exploded, killing the painter who also happened
to be a student of Rembrandt. Most of Fabritius’ paintings were destroyed in the disaster, but the
13X9 inch subject of the book and movie survived and is on permanent display at the
Mauritshuis in The Hague, Netherlands. Due to the book’s popularity, the painting had to be
moved into a bigger gallery for all the tourists and lovers of the book to view.
If you’ve read my reviews this year you know I’m fan of superhero movies and a lover of classic
Disney, but I also love movies that cause many people to be passionate. I had never heard of The
Goldfinch, but the excitement surrounding its release was reason enough to go see it, and it also
has a notable cast including Nicole Kidman, Jeffrey Wright, and Stanger Things’ Finn Wolfhard,
so it was easy to pick for this month’s review.
I don’t want to spoil anyone’s afternoon by giving away too much but this is a tale of an orphan
played by talented young actor Oakes Fegley who I first saw in the remake of my childhood
favorite Pete’s Dragon a few years ago. He stole my heart then and is even more impressive now
that he is a little older. This is a movie of tragedy, regret, loyalty, and hope for redemption not
only for our main character Theo, but for other characters as well. I believe it is obviously easier
to follow if you’ve read the book, for this tale bounces back and forth between that horrible day
of the terrorist attack, to Theo growing up, to when he is an adult played by Ansel Elgort. The
relationships he finds due to that tragic day are nothing short of amazing and each character
gives him what he needed to find answers and set himself free much like our famous painting.
While the Goldfinch might still be chained in the painting, he is now free and on display for
everyone to enjoy.