Turning a critically acclaimed novel into an equally critically acclaimed film isn’t easy, and sometimes it leads to disastrous results. Just look at The Goldfinch.
Based on the 2013 novel of the same name, the Pulitzer Prize winning book follows a boy named Theo from adolescence to adulthood. After surviving a terrorist attack at an art museum that killed his mother, Theo takes a small painting from the museum called The Goldfinch with him and holds on to it for the rest of his troubled life.
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The film adaptation of The Goldfinch released on September 13th and has plenty of prestige behind it. It was directed by John Crowly, director of the critically acclaimed adaptation of the novel Brooklyn. It featured an all star cast consisting of Ansel Elgort, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, Jeffery Wright, Finn Wolfhard, and Nicole Kidman. And to top it off, the film has its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival a week before release.
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Unfortunately, none of that added to a successful film. The Goldfinch earned negative reviews from critics and bombed at the box office. It has been reported that the film could lose up to $50 million for the studios that financed it.
Many attribute the poor performance of the film to the challenges of adapting the novel. At over seven-hundred pages and told in an unreliable first-person narrative that spans several decades, the story of The Goldfinch is a complicated one that the film doesn’t convey properly by flashing back and forth between time periods. In addition, critics felt that the characters were underdeveloped and hard to sympathize with.
It’s always a shame when a great novel gets lost in translation on the big screen.
Have you read The Goldfinch?
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