an honest review of donna tartt's 'the goldfinch'

the goldfinch is a book published in 2013 by donna tartt. in 2019, the book was adapted into a film directed by john crowley. i will be referring to both the film and the book, although, small disclaimer, i haven't finished the book (it's over 700 pages and obnoxiously dense. you wouldn't want to finish it either). both the book and the film have mixed reviews and it's clear why.i myself have some very strong, very conflicting feelings about them. i love that godforsaken movie with all of my being, would watch it a million times if i could, but it's also the worst thing that's ever happened to me and i hate it. basically. i'm gay and i'm mad. so dedicating a whole page of my website to this garbage only seems right.

for those who aren't familiar with the goldfinch, here is some brief context before we begin: the main character, theo, visits a museum with his mother on their way to meet theo's principal (he got in trouble at school. it wasn't his fault, which is besides the point, but it's worth mentioning since it's a source of immense guilt for him throughout the film). while at the museum, a bomb goes off killing multiple people, including theo's mother. the goldfinch is a painting he viewed with his mother at the museum. he sees the painting after the explosion and ends up taking it with him when he escapes the museum. it is assumed to be destroyed along with several other paintings. the story follows theo and his incredibly depressing life and how he copes with his mother's death, his father's abuse, substance abuse, etc. etc. and, of course, the painting.

right after his mother's death, theo is forced to live with a friend and his family because his alcoholic father left months prior and he has no other relatives. after living with them for a couple months, his father shows up without warning and announces that theo will move across the country to live with him, which is where we meet boris. let me just say, i love kid theo. there are some quotes in that section of the book that HIT and oakes fegley portrays him perfectly. now boris, on the other hand. oh boris. i don't have beef with finn wolfhard, but i have beef with finn wolfhard. boris is an immigrant boy from eastern europe who has lived in all sorts of places. in the film, he has the Most terrible accent. it's very hard to take him seriously, if you couldn't finish the movie based on that alone, i wouldn't blame you.

boris's accent is just a minor issue i have with the film. boris and theo's relationship is perhaps the most angering part about the whole movie. let me tell you, i know about this film because a friend heard about it on tumblr. tumblr! gay people LOVE this movie and that's exactly what donna tartt wanted. donna tartt is a boomer from mississippi her dad is don tartt (DON?!) who was a politician. now i can't find much about her dad but smells like a pig to me. let's not get ahead of ourselves though. donna tartt doesn't know Anything about gay people. she's a straight white woman, who thinks she's doing something by writing about a nice meaningful relationship between two young boys who are both horribly abused and traumatized AND FOR WHAT. boris kisses theo and it's played off as "haha i just did that to distract you. i told you i had something to tell you and it's not that i'm in love with you it's that i took the painting and sold it for collateral in a drug trade haha". THE LONGING! they were there for each other! boris was theo's only friend. they did drugs and confided in each other and he was one of the only people theo could trust and relate to. it's exploitative and weird. call it what it is donna: it's blatant queerbaiting and it's DUMB. they are gay and donna tartt hates gay people. she makes terrible things happen to them (literally everything that could have gone wrong in theo's life goes wrong) because everyone loves seeing gay people sad. donna tartt. i am mad at you.

clearly, this movie gets me really heated, but there are some things i like about it. for one, it's not chronological. personally, i think crowley does a fantastic job at weaving the storyline together. there are two main timelines: young theo right after his mother dies and older theo around the time he finds out about the painting being gone. the first time i watched this movie i was thoroughly confused, but the second time it made a lot more sense. it's not a movie you can just have playing in the background while you're doing something else. you really have to pay attention. i always notice something new when i watch it. other than that, i think crowley reveals things at a good time, it's not always super clear cut, but i found it really rewarding once i was able to piece it together.

another character that i have beef with is hobie. hobie owns an antique shop and his business partner is amongst the people who lost their lives in the bombing. theo spends a lot of time with hobie after his mom dies and he develops his love for antiques through him. tartt does a really good job at making him feel really cozy and trustworthy in the book. theo likes him because he talks to him like a normal person and not someone who just lost their mom. when theo moves, hobie writes a letter to theo that freaking tore my heart apart i swear. he is such a sweetie and genuinely cares for theo, even letting theo live with him when he had no where else to go. the problem i have here is that towards the end of the movie when theo tells him about how he thought he had the painting but that it was gone, hobie loses his freaking mind. he goes on and on about how the painting wasn't for theo to keep and how he destroyed a beautiful piece of art. it's so unbelievably out of character it makes me want to rip my hair out. hobie loved that kid. he practically raised him. theo was a kid when he took the painting. admiring that painting with his mom is the last memory he has with her. hobie losing his mind about the painting is just so obnoxious.

there are plenty of things to talk about with this film, but the last thing i will mention is how strange the ending of the film is. not sure if it was just me, but i forgot about the painting several times throughout the movie, which seems really wacky since the movie is literally named after it but maybe that was the point? i'm not sure, but either way, at the end of the film boris and theo reunite randomly in nyc when theo is trying to buy drugs and then boris breaks it to theo that the painting is gone (because theo had the painting wrapped and never opened it so he didn't notice that boris replaced it with a book when they were kids like WHAT?) and then they go to amsterdam with guns and try to get it back. people die, boris is shot, theo tries to overdose, it's a lot. it happens really fast, but they end up getting the painting and theo tells hobie they got it and he's really happy. it's all super weird and abrupt and still confuses me after watching several times.

to wrap this up, i just wanted to mention that this is by no means a comprehensive review, just a couple of main things that stick out to me. i'm also just a silly college student who happens to know how to make a website and has a lot of opinions so please take anything i say with a grain of salt. i'd like to add more to this after i come to more conclusions about the film since i will continue to rewatch it over and over. perhaps i'll get around to finishing the book as well... if you managed to make it through all of my nonsense, thank you but also congratulations cause i could go on about this forever. i also may or may not be really attached to it because i first watched it with someone who means the world to me n we were real cozy n cuddly n it was a really happy moment for me SO SHUT UP. if you've read the book and/or seen the movie, i'd LOVE to talk about what you think about it. if you haven't watched the film or read the book and are considering doing either... good luck charlie.