There is a small, vocal, and very protective fandom in the literary world who were both wary and excited when they found out that Donna Tartt’s third novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Goldfinch, was being made into a film. The pint-sized writer penned the 800-page long story of art theft, grief and belonging in 2013, and it swiftly became one of the most talked-about books of the year.
For those not yet acquainted with the story, the book follows a teenager called Theo who steals a famous painting, The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius, after a bomb explodes in an art museum that kills his mother. Forced to live with his feckless father, Theo meets fellow mysterious teen Boris and, fast-forward eight years, the two have to navigate the seedy world of drugs and crime, while Theo grapples with the grief and guilt of his past.
As Tartt is notoriously very resistant in allowing her books to be made into a film, it had to be a top-quality team for her to trust the adaptation process. Taking on the task are director John Crowley (Brooklyn), screenwriter Peter Straughan (Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy) and cinematographer Roger Deakins (Blade Runner 2049) – no worries there, then. The cast list also boasts a solid line-up; taking on the role of Theo will be Oakes Fegley (teenage) and Ansel Elgort (adult), while Boris will be played by Finn Wolfhard (teenage) and Aneurin Barnard (adult). The supporting cast features Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, Willa Fitzgerald and Jeffrey Wright.
The Goldfinch is physically and metaphorically concerned with what happens when the dust settles, and, from the trailer, the most immediate thing that strikes you is Deakin’s gorgeous cinematography that gives rise to and beautifully evokes Tartt’s writing. Soft glows and emberred lighting reveal the characters, with light and hope juxtaposed with ash and emptiness, subtly reflecting the book’s theme and feeling, with clips linked together with haunting vocals and piano. I’m not embarrassed to say that the trailer captured a feeling so accurately articulated in the book that it made me shed a tear.
With the release date just three months away, there isn’t long to wait to see the big-screen take on Tartt’s “history of people who have loved beautiful things, and looked out for them, and pulled them from the fire.”
Words by Steph Green