I haven't read THE GOLDFINCH, it's been on my shelf for a couple years since it was a massive hit and the "must read" for much of America. With 30 weeks on the NYT bestseller list, it was a phenomenon.
I've heard the Pulitzer Prize winner is incredibly well plotted, complex and involving, with a crime thriller of a final act.
I can only say that I've heard that, because this mess of a film adaption renders all of those attributes senseless.
It's certainly a terrific cast.
When Theo Decker's mother is killed in a terrorist bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, the young boy takes a small painting with him in his backpack as a tangible connection to his mother.
The film pops all over time with little flow. We meet young Theo (Oakes Fegley, very good) as he's taken in by a very wealthy Manhattan family, led by Nicole Kidman as Mrs. Barbour. She is the warmest person in the family, a fact only relevant in relation to the absolutely frigid welcome from the rest of the family.
Adult Theo is racked by guilt, rampant drug and alcohol abuse and depression. He's played by Ansel Elgort, in way over his head with this role. He's been so good in some other films like "Baby Driver" but he's one note here.
As usual, Jeffrey Wright is excellent as an antique dealer with a connection to the bombing. He's the one steady in Theo's life. His life and the film are far better for it.
Owen Wilson is Theo's dad, who has never been part of his life. He swoops in with his trashy new wife Xandra (Sarah Paulson at her twisted best) and move Theo to the desert suburbs of Las Vegas. These are not great parents.
The film never gels and takes a very, very long time to go anywhere. The scenes feel episodic, like stand alone vignettes versus forming any kind of narrative flow. Every time the film popped back to young Theo in Vegas, I sunk lower in my seat.
Anytime Wright or Kidman were on screen, I was engaged. Unfortunately, they come and go during a two and half hour run time that feels much longer.
With one of the worst wide openings in the history of the movies and only $5 million total in US box office, THE GOLDFINCH bombed, alienating all its readers with deadly word of mouth the first few days.
I can see why. Bored and less than intrigued, I'll give it a D.