By Sophie Fennelly
Having read an array of disparaging reviews I have to say that I was not feeling overly excited as I walked into the cinema on Saturday morning, expecting nothing more than a confusing plot that would amount to no more than an average but disappointing ending.
Yet, as the film began I found myself engrossed in the plot. Whilst many were apprehensive at the casting of Ansel Elgort as Theo, I felt as if Elgort fully embodied the character of Theo, and the emotional depth that he brought to role allowed me as an audience member to create an undeniable connection with him.
Many have berated the non-linear plot line, accusing Crowley of trying to overcomplicate the film in order to try and give it a synthetic artistic quality, but for me the repeated flashbacks to the bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art represent the the impact these events have had on Theo and therefore give the audience an insight into Theo’s psyche. Of course, in revealing a bit more information about the events every time we see these events Crowley is playing into a cliché trope in order to create an increasing amount of suspense, but this technique is a common trope because it is effecting and when the final flashback began I was on the edge of my seat. More so, this non-linear plot has a much deeper impact on the audience; after all, none of our lives are linear, we are all haunted by events that take place during our childhood, even if they are not as dramatic as a terrorist bombing.
Dismissive to the focus on Pippa and Theo’s relationship, many critics suggest that Crowley is trying to hammer a romance into a story where that simply isn’t present, but those critics are missing the point of their relationship. Pippa and Theo’s connection helps them connect with their lost loved ones whilst getting to grips with the horror of their mutual experience. Theo and Pippa’s relationship is more than just unrequited love, it shows the power of having a friend to help you get through a difficult situation, which is something we can all relate to.
But even if you were to look Pippa and Theo’s relationship sole from a romantic perspective, Pippa’s rejection of Theo is not about love, but tragedy - Theo’s life is punctuated with
tragedy: the death of his mother, the loss of his Barbours, the death of his father, being separated from Boris, learning of Andy’s death, being betrayed by Boris, being rejected by Pippa, and losing the only connection to his mother that he had left: the Goldfinch. Each of these tragedies allow the audience to sympathise with and become deeper connected the character of Theo, and this connection is what makes the film so deeply moving.
I give the Goldfinch 4/5 stars.
Image Credit: Warner Brothers