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The Goldfinch 1.0 stars

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Synopsis

The title refers to a painting, but the subtitle —The Story of a Stolen Life — has to do with protagonist Theodore Decker, a child (and later in the film, a young man) whose development is arrested by the death of his mother in an explosion. And by his father’s prior abandonment and subsequent exploitative return, post-blowup. And by the departure of his soulmate. And by a friend who tips him to the glories of prepubescent drug trips. And, and, and. What’s odd in John Crowley’s exceedingly handsome, narratively jumbled, erratically acted adaptation of Donna Tartt’s novel is how little any of this admittedly horrific suffering makes its way into the viewer’s heart. The film opened with Decker readying to end his own life in an Amsterdam hotel room, and by the time the story circled back to that point, I was strangely sanguine. Yes, I suppose it makes sense for this fellow to be checking out at this point... There are ideas at work here, about providence and salvation (or at least their secular counterparts, coincidence and rescue), about civilization and the worthwhile work of preserving it, and about defining moments and our response to them. But there isn’t much of a movie.

Matthew Lickona

Length: 2 hours, 29 minutes

Rated: R

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