Some books are best left as books. Case in point: Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch.”
Slow, often boring and frequently forgettable, the film version doesn’t live up to its Pulitzer Prize-winning origins.
Because it’s about a young boy’s journey after the death of his mother, it’d seem ripe for adaptation. But this isn’t it.
The plot: Young Theodore Decker (Oakes Fegley) is sent to live with the wealthy Barbour family after a museum bombing. With him: A painting called “The Goldfinch” that he was told to take as he exited the museum.
The Barbour’s matriarch (Nicole Kidman) takes him under wing and tries to assure him he’s going to be OK.
Everything looks fine until his long-absent father (Luke Wilson) turns up and says he’s taking him to Las Vegas.
There, he encounters a much different life – one filled with drugs and alcohol, lies and betrayal.
He finds a friend in another outsider, a Ukranian-Russian teen named Boris (Finn Wolfhard from “Stranger Things,” who’s very, very good) who tries to convince him life can get better.
Director John Crowley then jumps ahead and introduces us to an adult Theo (played by Ansel Elgort) who finds direction with an antiques dealer (Jeffrey Wright). He becomes an ace salesman and, yes, still hides the painting from others.
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Because Elgort isn’t as committed as Fegley, the character doesn’t have the same intensity. He falls in love with the Barbours’ daughter and is pulled into the art underworld when a figure from his past re-emerges.
Clearly, more editing was done during the adult years. Scenes skip frequently, then double back to the teen years.
Sarah Paulson is fine as Theo’s father’s girlfriend and Wright manages to keep the guessing game going as long as he’s on screen.
But there’s a lot about the painting, the man in the museum and Theo’s mom that needed to be included to make this “Goldfinch” sing.
Fans of the book may enjoy seeing how someone realized the characters. Others may wonder where the nuance went when Peter Straughan was adapting Tartt’s 780-plus-page book.
The premise is interesting. The execution (yawn) is not.