Fear of death, self-destruction and hope: analysis of the film The Goldfinch (2019): the plot and meaning of the film, content, the essence of the ending, similar films
Genre: drama, adaptation
Year of production: 2019
Directed by: John Crowley
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Oakes Feegley, Aneurin Barnard, Finn Wolfhard
tagline: “The story of a stolen life”
John Crowley’s film adaptation of Donna Tart’s bestseller received mixed reviews. To fans of the book, the tape seemed too superficial, and to those who have not read the novel, it was slurred, but pretentious. But it is not all that bad. Crowley, taking the book of Tart as a basis, created his own work. The essence of The Goldfinch is the existential fear of death. It is also a movie about finding oneself, about losses and disappointments, about loneliness and about “fathers and children”.
What is the movie about?
Brief description of the content of the film The Goldfinch. Thirteen-year-old Theodore Decker, along with his mother, a fan of the work of Karel Fabricius, comes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A woman really wants to see the masterpiece of the great master – the painting The Goldfinch. Nothing foreshadowed trouble, but suddenly an explosion is heard, and the boy’s mother dies. The boy himself miraculously survives. Seeing an old man dying from his wounds, he receives from his hands both the Goldfinch and the engraved ring. Theo hides these treasures at home.
Oakes Figley played the role of young Theo, while Hayley Wiest starred as Theo’s mom. Frame from the film.
For some time, the boy is placed in the Barbour family, in which his friend Andy grows up – his father left them with his mother a long time ago, and he has no other relatives. Theo becomes close to all members of a large but close-knit family, and especially to his friend’s mother, Samantha. The woman loves art and, noticing that the boy is interested in antiques, encourages him in every possible way. Seeing the ring, Samantha suggests that he take the thing to the Hobart and Blackwell antique shop. Theo does just that and meets an old man named Hobie. The boy shows him the ring and tells how he got it. And Hobie talks about a business partner who also died in a terrorist attack – it was the same old man who gave Theo a ring and a picture.
He was survived by his granddaughter Pippa, the girl received a severe head injury during the explosion. Once they get to know each other, they become friends. Life goes on as usual, and soon Theo finds out that the Barbours want to adopt him. But this is prevented by the father of the boy Larry, who takes his son to Las Vegas. Once upon a time, Larry had problems with alcohol, but he went through a course of treatment and would like to correct the mistake he once made, that is, to return his son to himself. One of the few items Theo takes with him is the Goldfinch painting.
In Las Vegas, she lives with her father, his girlfriend Xandra and her dog Popper, in a small house with a swimming pool. Theo goes to school and meets Boris, the son of Ukrainian emigrants. The guys quickly become friends, but Boris, who has taken over from his father a craving for alcohol and drugs, “hooks” Decker on substances as well. Once, being in an altered consciousness, Theo tells a friend about the The Goldfinch and shows where the painting is kept.
The role of the adult Theodore was played by Ansel Elgort, and Aneurin Barnard starred as Boris. Frame from the film.
Some time passes, and Larry dies in an accident. In order not to end up in a shelter, Theo runs back to New York and comes to his old friend Hobie. He accepts the young man, teaches him his craft and Theo becomes his student, and then a colleague.
At the same time, he finds his old friends the Barbours. For those, things are not going so well. Friend Andy Platt tells Decker that his father, along with childhood friend Theo, died in a car accident. The young man goes to Mrs. Barbour, who welcomes him cordially. At her house, he meets Andy’s younger sister, Kitsy. They get closer, it goes to the engagement. However, Theo does not love Kitsy – Pippa still lives in his memory. However, the girl now lives in London, and Decker understands that a future meeting is hardly possible.
Theo continues to use drugs and work for Hobie. The painting The Goldfinch still lives with him – more precisely, in a storage locker.
Towards the end of the film, he goes to a bar and meets Boris there. However, he does not rejoice at the meeting for long: a friend of his youth informs him that he stole the Goldfinch from him and, cunningly manipulating it, all this time ensured a comfortable existence for himself. Theo demands that the painting be returned, but Boris says that members of a well-known gang stole it from him.
The Goldfinch Ending explanation
Explanation of the ending of the film The Goldfinch. On the day of Theo and Kitsy’s engagement, Boris reappears. Taking his friend aside, he says that he has an idea how to return the painting to them. To do this, they have to go to Amsterdam. Luck smiles on friends, and they return the Goldfinch. However, at some point, something goes wrong – they are discovered by criminals and a shootout begins. Boris is wounded and Decker kills one of the attackers. The picture leaves him again …
In the finale, Theo goes to his hotel room and tries to take his own life. He is stopped by Boris, who knows the clue to the painting’s new location. He proposes a new plan, simple to the point of genius – to contact the police. Realizing that there is no other way out, friends do just that. After the raid, the Goldfinch returns to the museum.
The meaning of the ending of the film The Goldfinch is that the hero has matured and let go of the past. The symbol of his growing up returned to where it should be, and Theo was freed from the burden that had been on his soul for many years.
The role of Mrs. Barbour was played by Nicole Kidman. Frame from the film.
The meaning of the film The Goldfinch
Theo’s whole life is connected with the picture of Fabricius The Goldfinch. Moreover, after the death of his mother, she was the meaning of his life. The masterpiece of the 17th century became for the boy a golden key that opened the doors of memories. A little later, having learned to understand art, Theo fell in love with the picture in a different way, in an adult way.
The Goldfinch – the story of the formation of personality. This is a fairly simple film, there is no hidden meaning in it. At the same time, as many viewers note in their analysis, it perfectly shows the formation of a value system in a child, a young man, a young man … And this film also shows that a tragedy can bring people together much closer than native blood.
The story of The Goldfinch can be divided into several story arcs that intertwine throughout the story. The first is Theo’s story immediately after the explosion. The second is his life with his father: it was at this moment that Theo, who was growing up, began to think about the meaning of life. Alas, the gouging Boris got in his way, and his father, in principle, had nothing to do with him. The third line is the story of an antique shop where Decker found a good friend, job and first love.
Like the icing on the cake, this is the story of The Goldfinch itself, a masterpiece of the 17th century that survived against all odds. So is Theo. Having matured early, having gone through “fire and water and copper pipes” and having carried the love of the picture through his whole life, he also survived. He survived. Perhaps the essence of the film is that art is a great power. Loving things, getting attached to them is kind of bad. But if it makes us even a little better, then prejudice is useless here. Especially when it comes to things that have been admired by many generations before us and will be admired by many after us.
Ashley Cummings as Pippa. Frame from the film.
However, the film also has a darker interpretation. An explosion, the death of a loved one, an attempt to survive … The first alcohol, the first “jamb”. The painting by Fabricius is not even a background. She just is and that’s it. It depicts a bird tied to a perch by its paw – a bird that cannot fly away … It soon turns out that the background is illusory – Theo kept in the cell something completely different from what he thought. The fact itself is important – there is a picture, there is a secret and it is always somewhere nearby.
The Goldfinch is also a story of self-destruction. For Theodore, it began at the age of 13, when his mother died. It does not end with the last scene and it is not clear whether he will give up drugs, will he have time to get married, or will he still go through life with his friend Boris?
For some, the process of self-destruction begins either earlier or later. And it ends differently – in an accident or with the transition to heavier substances. And as always, there are people who do not notice anything. And as usual, everyone has their own locker with skeletons. Even the “cream of society” …
Be that as it may, The Goldfinch is a unique work. Woven from accidents, unexpected turns and unrealistic events, it describes the impact of art on humanity. At the same time, it creates the illusion that everything is possible in this life. Every story ends sooner or later. But if you immortalize it, it will stay here forever.
Frame from the film.
Here are a few films similar in meaning to the movie The Goldfinch:
- Bookshop (Germany, Spain, UK, 2017). Early 60s, England. Florence, a native of a provincial town, decides to fulfill her cherished desire and opens a bookstore.
- “Extremely loud and incredibly close” (USA, 2011). In the September 11 attacks, the young Oscar lost his father, with whom he had a very specific but very close relationship. The boy, confident that before his death, his father hid a message for him somewhere in the city, goes in search.
- “Bonfire of the Vanities” (USA, 1990). Sherman McCoy, a Wall Street stockbroker, once hits a black teenager with his car. This becomes a point of no return for him.