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Non-Review Review: The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch is bizarre misfire, lurking somewhere within the uncanny valley of prestige awards fare.

The film looks just enough like a standard end-of-year prestige piece to convince at a distance. John Crowley knows how to frame a shot and how to edit a sequence, particularly when setting it to music. The production values are impressive. The presence of actors like Jeffrey Wright or Nicole Kidman help to sell the illusion. The film itself is built around a variety of familiar awards-friendly tropes, charting the struggles of an orphan who drifts through the social strata twenty-first century American while struggling with his emotions and his drug addiction.

The Goldfinch is decidedly artless.

However, there’s also just enough wrong with The Goldfinch to push it into some weird liminal space. No three members of the cast seem to believe that they are in the same movie. The film decides to spend two hours as a reflective mood piece, before cramming a fairly generic thriller into the next twenty minutes, and wraps up by having a secondary character explain an ending that happened entirely off-screen. Large passages of the movie consist of time-lapse montages of characters staring into middle distance as overwrought monologues discuss concepts of grief and guilt.

Most of The Goldfinch is dull and lifeless, but there are moments when the film swerves wildly into surreality. Those moments aren’t necessarily good, but they are at least more interesting than the hollow prestige trappings that surround them.

I sense a laboured metaphor.

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