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'The Goldfinch': Nuanced performances elevate this odyssey (IANS review; Rating: ***)

Friday - September 20, 2019 7:08 pm , Category : ENTERTAINMENT
"The Goldfinch"; Cast: Ansel Elgort, Oakes Fegley, Aneurin Barnard, Finn Wolfhard, Ashleigh Cummings, Willa Fitzerald, Aimee Laurence, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, Jeffrey Wright, Nicole Kidman, Denis OHare, Boyd Gaines, Peter Jacobson, Hailey Wist; Director: John Crowley; Rating: *** (three stars)
Director John Crowley's "The Goldfinch" is designed like a character-driven film, languid and slow-paced. It is about closures, miracles and destiny, and has a treasured painting named The Goldfinch as its backdrop.
It is Theo Decker's stark odyssey.
The story is triggered by a tragic twist of fate when Theo Decker and his mother enter the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A bomb by extremists rips the Museum, killing his mother. Since then, going into a shell, Theo keeps blaming himself.
"It was my fault just like everything else… even if it did by happenstance…" he rues and thus begins the tale.
The plot, narrated in a non-linear manner, meanders aimlessly but wraps up the story effortlessly. The graph moving on an even keel, gives us an insight into the various relationships of Theo -- with his estranged and alcoholic father Larry (Luke Wilson), his girlfriend Xandra (Sarah Paulson), his childhood friend Boris, a Ukrainian immigrant who introduces him to drugs and alcohol, the Barbours, the family of his best friend Andy with whom he had sought refuge after the demise of his mother, the young musician Pippa who is also a blast victim and her uncle.
Unbeknownst to any of them, Theo is in possession of the treasured painting -- the piece done by the 17th century Dutch painter Carel Fabritius. So, you expect the film to switch genres and become a thriller. But alas, that does not happen.
The character, Theo Decker, grows on you and you get engrossed with his life. Oakes Fegley gives a sincere performance as the young Theo. He evokes the right emotions passionately and builds a strong foundation for the character. Ansel Elgort as the older Theo, slips into the protagonist's shoes easily. Together, the two actors effortlessly showcase Theo's complicated and interesting life.
Similarly, Aimee Laurence and later Ashleigh Cummings portray Pippa, Finn Wolfhard and later Aneurin Barnad play Boris. Both the pairs are uncannily matched.
Nicole Kidman as Andy's mom Samantha Barbour adds weight to this ensemble cast, whose brilliant performances are worth a watch.
The only issue with the film, which is adapted from Donna Tartt's Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name, is the screenplay. It is complicated, making the timelines confusing and the viewing experience a bit tedious. At times the expositions are clunky, too.
Overall, mounted with ace production values, the film works for those who have not read the book.

--IANS troy/vnc