It isn’t often that a modern film features a 13-year-old boy choosing refinement over the stereotypical horndog antics of ...
It isn’t often that a modern film features a 13-year-old boy choosing refinement over the stereotypical horndog antics of, oh I don’t know, just about every teen movie or TV show. It’s as if this depiction is so pervasive any kid who chooses to understand the complexities of literature, classical music and fine art is literally a freak of nature.
That’s the interesting thing, though. For young Theo Decker (played as a youth by Oakes Fegley), the world revolves around his beautiful, sweet mother who takes the time to help him understand the wonder, and the layers of story and connections, found within refined things. That’s why they are at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City at such a pivotal moment you can practically see the kid holding his breath to see what’s next. For one, his mother is explaining the background to a lovely little painting upon which the film is titled by 17th century artist Carel Fabritius while a pretty red-haired girl about his age seems interested in him and even moves close enough to touch his hand. Then, a bomb detonates, changing his world forever.
The film is based upon a New York Times bestselling novel by Donna Tartt, who first saw the painting in question 20 years before the release of her book. It was also awarded a Pulitzer Prize.
In the film, directed with steady skill by John Crowley, a mystery is created in that moment as well which we won’t find the answer to until the end of the movie, and which I certainly won’t reveal here. But, it is a mystery that audiences might find a little hard to hold onto the strings of which for a while, especially as we follow Theo as he is taken in by the wealthy Barbour family (headed by Nicole Kidman and Boyd Gaines). That’s because among victims of the blast was Theo’s beloved mother. Theo was friends with young Andy Barbour (Ryan Foust) and the two become close.
The other reason Theo is taken in by the Barbours is because his father Larry (Luke Wilson) disappeared a long time ago and is basically out of the picture — until one day, he shows up with a woman named Xandra (Sarah Paulson). The next thing you know, Theo is whisked away to low-rent life in Texas (really New Mexico subbing in).
Before all that, Theo needs to take care of something left over from the explosion. It seems that an old man who was fatally injured has given Theo a ring and the name of a man he made Theo promise to find. The man was Weldon “Welty” Blackwell and the man he had to give the ring to is his business partner, James “Hobie” Hobart (Jeffrey Wright). This sets off another thread that Theo will wind up following even as he becomes and adult (now played by Ansel Elgort). There are others too, most fatefully his friendship with a Ukranian kid named Boris (Finn Wolfhard).
Before long Crowley begins putting the pieces together of this plot, which about a third of the way through starts to feel hopelessly lost in character development hell. But don’t give up. Like the perfect denoument in a great piece of classical music, there are grace notes here as well. Highly recommended.
Tempo grade: A
“The Goldfinch” is rated R for drug use and and language.
It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For showtimes, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.
Also showing in Taos.
MPAA rating: PG for thematic material, brief language and smoking.
Taos Community Auditorium
In this funny, uplifting tale based on an actual lie, Chinese-born, U.S.-raised Billi (Awkwafina) reluctantly returns to Changchun to find that, although the whole family knows their beloved matriarch, Nai-Nai (Shuzhen Zhao), has been given mere weeks to live, everyone has decided not to tell Nai Nai herself.
To assure her happiness, they gather under the joyful guise of an expedited wedding, uniting family members scattered among new homes abroad. As Billi navigates a minefield of family expectations and proprieties, she finds there’s a lot to celebrate: a chance to rediscover the country she left as a child, her grandmother’s wondrous spirit, and the ties that keep on binding even when so much goes unspoken.
With “The Farewell,” writer-director Lulu Wang has created a heartfelt celebration of both the way we perform family and the way we live it, masterfully interweaving a gently humorous depiction of the good lie in action with a richly moving story of how family can unite and strengthen us, often in spite of ourselves.
This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 15) and 7 p.m. Monday through
Wednesday (Sept. 16-18) at the Taos Cmmunity Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.
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