The Goldfinch (film)
|Directed by||John Crowley|
|Screenplay by||Peter Straughan|
|Based on||The Goldfinch|
by Donna Tartt
|Edited by||Kelley Dixon|
|Music by||Trevor Gureckis|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$9.9 million|
The Goldfinch is a 2019 American drama film directed by John Crowley, written by Peter Straughan, and adapted from the 2013 novel of the same name by Donna Tartt. It stars Ansel Elgort as Theodore Decker, whose life changes after his mother dies in a terrorist bombing at a museum and a dying man convinces him to take a famous painting called The Goldfinch from the museum. Oakes Fegley, Aneurin Barnard, Finn Wolfhard, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, Jeffrey Wright, and Nicole Kidman appear in supporting roles.
The novel's film rights were sold to Warner Bros. and RatPac Entertainment, with ICM Partners brokering the deal. Two years later, Crowley was hired to direct the film adaptation, and Elgort was selected to portray Theodore Decker. Most of the remaining cast joined from October 2017 to January 2018. Filming began in New York City in January 2018 and moved to Albuquerque in April 2018 for the rest of the production.
The Goldfinch premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and was theatrically released in the United States on September 13, 2019, by Warner Bros. Pictures. It was a box-office bomb, with estimated losses for the studio as high as $50 million, and received generally mixed reviews that criticised the plot and narrative, though the cinematography and performances received praise.
Thirteen-year-old Theodore Decker's mother is killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. In the aftermath of the explosion, a dying man urges him to take a painting—The Goldfinch—and his engraved ring. Theo hides the painting at his apartment and is placed with the Barbours, the family of his best friend Andy. Theo reconnects with Andy and becomes close to Mrs. Barbour, who encourages his interest in antiques and art.
It is revealed that Theo and his mother were supposed to see Theo's principal because the school said he and classmate Tom Cable were smoking. They were early, so his mother took Theo to the museum on the day of the explosion. Theo continues to blame himself for his mother's death. He realizes Tom is the one who ratted him out and, for the sake of his mother and Andy, he ends his friendship with Tom.
Following the dying man's instructions, Theo locates the antiques shop of James "Hobie" Hobart, whose partner Welton "Welty" Blackwell gave the ring to Theo to return. Hobie allows Theo to visit Pippa, Welty’s niece who was injured in the bombing, and the children bond before Pippa is sent to live with her aunt in Texas. Theo visits Hobie regularly and settles into life with the Barbours as Andy hints that his parents are considering adopting him. However, Theo's estranged father Larry, claiming to be newly sober, arrives with his girlfriend Xandra to relocate Theo to Las Vegas. Theo brings The Goldfinch and keeps it hidden.
In Las Vegas, Theo befriends Boris, a Ukrainian classmate, who has also lost his mother. Both of their fathers are abusive. Boris introduces Theo to drugs and alcohol, which follow him into adulthood. Larry ends up in gambling debt and tries to convince Theo to transfer his education fund to an account, then slaps Theo when he tries to understand. When Larry fails to extort Theo's education fund by phone, Theo learns that he's been using his social security number to try to do the same.
After Theo and Boris take LSD, he learns that Larry was killed in a drunk-driving accident. When Xandra berates him for his apparently apathetic response, Theo runs away to New York, taking Xandra's dog Popper and the painting, but is unable to convince Boris to join him. Hobie allows Theo to live with him.
Eight years later, Theo has made Hobie’s shop successful, selling his restored antiques. He runs into Andy's older brother Platt, who reveals that Andy and their father were killed in a boating accident during one of Mr. Barbour’s bipolar episodes. Theo visits the ailing Mrs. Barbour and reconnects with her daughter Kitsey. Reeve, a disgruntled art dealer, confronts Theo for selling him a fake. Having deduced that Theo stole The Goldfinch, Reeve accuses him of using it as collateral to finance his shop. Unknown to anyone else, Theo keeps the wrapped painting in a storage locker.
Theo becomes engaged to Andy's younger sister Kitsey, but harbors a secret love for Pippa, who now lives in London with her boyfriend Everett. Theo catches Kitsey cheating on him with an adult Tom Cable, but they remain engaged, as Theo is close to Mrs. Barbour and Kitsey is permissive toward his drug habit. Theo tells Hobie the truth about selling his restorations as “real” forgeries. Pippa visits Theo and they confess their feelings for each other, but she tearfully rejects him, citing the instability caused by their shared childhood trauma.
Seeking drugs at a bar, Theo is reunited with Boris, who reveals he stole The Goldfinch from Theo years prior and used it as collateral to finance his crime career, before it was then stolen from him. At his storage locker, Theo discovers Boris replaced the painting with a school textbook. After a visit from Reeve, a heartbroken Hobie confronts Theo for the theft and loss of The Goldfinch.
At Theo's and Kitsey's engagement party, Boris arrives with a plan to recover The Goldfinch. Theo accompanies him to Amsterdam, where Boris seizes the painting at gunpoint, but they are ambushed by another pair of criminals. Boris kills one of them but is shot. Theo is forced to kill the other assailant, while another man escapes with the painting.
Theo tries to take his life in his hotel room, but is rescued by Boris. Boris explains that he called in a tip to police about the painting's location, and that during the subsequent raid, the authorities recovered the painting as well as other stolen art, including a Rembrandt. Boris persuades Theo that it was all for the greater good. The movie ends with a running flashback of Theo and his mother in the museum intercut with two scenes—Theo silently letting Hobie know that The Goldfinch is safe, and Theo in a gallery with Mrs. Barbour—before the final shot of Welty, Pippa, Theo and his mother viewing the Goldfinch prior to the explosion.
- Ansel Elgort as adult Theo Decker
- Oakes Fegley as young Theo Decker
- Aneurin Barnard as adult Boris
- Finn Wolfhard as young Boris
- Ashleigh Cummings as adult Pippa
- Willa Fitzgerald as adult Kitsey Barbour
- Aimée Laurence as young Pippa
- Ryan Foust as young Andy Barbour
- Sarah Paulson as Xandra
- Luke Wilson as Larry
- Jeffrey Wright as Hobie
- Nicole Kidman as Mrs. Barbour
- Denis O'Hare as Lucius Reeve
- Boyd Gaines as Mr. Barbour
- Peter Jacobson as Naaman Silver
- Robert Joy as "Welty" Blackwell
- Luke Kleintank as adult Platt Barbour
- Gordon Winarick as adult Tom Cable
- Nicky Torchia as young Tom Cable
- Hailey Wist as Theo's mother
- Robert Turano as Detective
- Samson Yap as tourist in boat
In July 2014, film rights to the novel were sold to Warner Bros. Pictures and RatPac Entertainment with ICM Partners brokering the deal. Two years later, John Crowley was hired to direct the film adaptation. In August 2017, Warner Bros. finalized a deal with Amazon Studios to co-finance the adaptation, where Amazon would invest in more than a third of the project's budget and obtain streaming rights to the picture on its Prime service, while Warner Bros. would distribute the film in theaters worldwide.
On October 4, 2017, after a two-month casting search, Ansel Elgort was cast in the lead role of Theodore "Theo" Decker, following his breakout turn in Baby Driver. On the same day, cinematographer Roger Deakins revealed to Variety that The Goldfinch was his next project after Blade Runner 2049. Later that month, in light of his recent performance in Dunkirk, Aneurin Barnard was cast as Boris. On November 15, Sarah Paulson was cast as Xandra. By late November, Trevor Gureckis was hired as the film's composer. In December 2017, Willa Fitzgerald and Ashleigh Cummings joined the cast. During the same month, Kelley Dixon from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul was enlisted to be the film's editor.[better source needed] In January 2018, Jeffrey Wright, Luke Wilson, Finn Wolfhard, and Luke Kleintank joined the cast. Later that month, the rest of the cast was announced as principal production commenced.
Footage from the film was first shown at CinemaCon on April 2, 2019. The first official images were released on May 28, 2019, as well as the first official teaser poster of the film. The first official trailer was released on May 29, 2019. About six months prior to its release, following test screenings, Warner Bros. knew the film would possibly perform poorly and in turn "dramatically" trimmed their prospective marketing plan.
The Goldfinch premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2019. It was theatrically released in the United States on September 13, 2019, after previously being set for October 11.
The Goldfinch grossed $5.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $4.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $9.4 million, against a production budget of around $45 million.
In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Hustlers and was originally projected to gross $5–8 million from 2,542 theaters in its opening weekend. However, after making just $870,000 on its first day, estimates were lowered to below $3 million. It went on to debut to just $2.6 million, the sixth-worst saturated opening of all-time for a film playing on over 2,500 screens. Following its poor opening, many publications had already labeled the film a box-office bomb and estimated it would lose as much as $50 million ($25–30 million for Warner Bros. and $16–18 million for Amazon Studios). The film plunged 71% in its second weekend to $770,000.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 24% based on 220 reviews with an average rating of 4.60/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Beautifully filmed yet mostly inert, The Goldfinch mishandles its source material, flattening a complex narrative into a largely uninvolving disappointment." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 40 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
A.O. Scott, writing for the New York Times, said the film "looks and sounds like a movie without quite being one. It's more like a Pinterest page or a piece of fan art, the record of an enthusiasm that is, to the outside observer, indistinguishable from confusion." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called it "a botch job for the ages" and said it "appears to be adapting the Cliff’s Notes version of the book instead of the book itself, producing an unplayable series of scene snippets".
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