I just saw the film adaptation of the Pulitzer prize winning novel The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and I must say it left me underwhelmed. Back when I read the novel I gave it 5/5 stars on goodreads, unfortunately this was before I was writing consistent reviews so I don’t have one to link to. However, I remember a lot of the novel because I adored it. It’s a beautiful coming of age novel that delves deep into grief, tragedy, the meaning of family, and how the people around you shape your character. The basic premise is that our young protagonist loses his mother in an art museum bombing and he is left alone in the rubble. He takes from the museum the painting the goldfinch and proceeds to try to find his way in life.
The movie checks all the plot point boxes off like it’s taking a road trip along the goldfinch map and making sure to hit all the tourist hot spots. If I had said before the movie I hope blank happens, it did. But this does not make it a good adaptation of the book. It’s a summary more than a recreation. Although it takes Theo from NY to Las Vegas and back again and has all of the important characters and all of them do what they should do it missed the heart of what made it a good book. It has no depth, no emotion, no relatability. In an attempt to keep the screenplay true to the novel they lost the most important pieces along the way.
It is impossible to please everyone when you take a book and turn it into a movie. Often times the complaint is that too much was changed or left out. But even a technically true adaptation can leave out the details that give a story that extra punch that make it more than just a sequence of events. I’m not sure how this movie would play out to someone who did not read the book but I highly recommend reading the book instead.
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