The Goldfinch (Blu Ray Review)

The release of The Goldfinch on Blu-ray offered me a chance to re-evaluate a film I liked well enough in theaters but was mired by poor reviews and a poorer box office. Was the nearly two and a half-hour run time too much or not enough to capture Donna Tartt’s Pultizer Prize-winning novel? As a fan of the story and the talented cast & crew involved, I wondered if my impression would go up or down. This might not be a masterpiece like the famed painting this film is named after but it certainly doesn’t deserve to be obliterated either. This stellar 2K disc will surely please those that did like the film (But why no 4K?).  Still, this an Oscar-bait film that screamed “cinema” and maybe that was the problem.



Guilt has been the subject of stories since well, forever. Shame in terms of those that survive a disaster that left many dead is a whole other level is awful. So when twenty-something Theo (Ansel Elgort) tells viewers via narration that his mother’s death was his fault – even before we know anything about what exactly happened –  we’re pretty sure it’s not at all his fault. The emptiness that haunts this young man is palpable.

Based on Donna Tartt’s epic 800 page novel from 2013, The Goldfinch is a post 911 tale told in two timelines. One section is focused on young Theo (Oakes Fegley) after a terrorist bomb kills his mother and others at the Met Museum in downtown NYC. The young boy’s life is uprooted as he’s taken in by a kindly upper west side mother (Nicole Kidman) and later as he’s shuffled off to Nevada to live with his deadbeat dad (Luke Wilson) and his girlfriend (Sarah Paulson.) The other half (the movie ventures back and forth in time) witnesses adult Theo struggle with depression from his guilt of having taken a priceless work of art, The Goldfinch, during the explosion that killed his mother. Why did he take it? Why has he held onto it for so long?

Among the supporting cast, Jeffrey Wright (Westworld) as an antique dealer who befriends young Theo stands out. Hobie  (Wright) taught Theo a craft: that of restoring furniture. It’s in these smaller moments where the film shines brightest. When it slows down and allows us to see how important it is for our lost narrator to know the difference between something of value and something disposable.

And yet, even at 149 minutes, there’s way too much story racing by. In Nevada, young Theo befriends that kid from Stranger Things (Finn Wolfhard) here named Boris who sports a Russian accent that would fit better in a Bullwinkle cartoon. And somehow this Boris plot leads to a weird heist like sequence were adult Theo is game to steal artworks from questionable Eastern Europeans. And even further there’s also a romance in which Theo falls for a self-centered gal who’s not really a good person. At least as a film, The Goldfinch is ripe with melodrama but it sure acts like it’s a serious cinematic piece which is a problem.

Roger Deakins (who FINALLY won the Best Cinematography Oscar for Blade Runner 2049) gives the entire production a gorgeous, thoughtful, feel. Yet John Crowley’s (Brooklyn) direction keeps dialing up the drama to eleven. Perhaps this is really just how things play in the novel but even on a smaller screen, it’s all too much.

There’s a lot I liked about The Goldfinch but I certainly can’t argue with those who found it tonally wanting. I wonder if this kind of Oscar film, the mid-range prestige drama, would have played better at the beginning of the decade (amongst the Blind Sides, The Helps) than now, in an era of truly strong dramas like Parasite or Marriage Story. For all of its flaws though there’s a talent on display that if it hits one in the mood for it works well.


  • Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC
  • Resolution: 1080P
  • Aspect Ratio: 1:85:1
  • Clarity/Detail: Whether touring a museum or hanging out in the desert this picture is crisp with no loss of detail evident. I’m sure a 4K disc would have provided even greater detail but this 2K disc is no slouch.
  • Depth: The overly fussed over the design of a Manhattan apartment showcases deep hallways that highlight a real sense of space. Other locations in the film also feel lived in.
  • Black Levels: Black levels are strong for a 2K disc.
  • Color Reproduction: Deakins is going for a more muted palate overall but the transfer never falters. Colors pop when they need to.
  • Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are natural and rendered well.
  • Noise/Artifacts: None were present that affected the viewing experience.


  • Audio Format(s): DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 16-bit), French, Spanish, Portuguese all 5.1 Dolby Digital
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese
  • Dynamics: Dialogue is clean. The ambiance of living in the Big Apple also impresses.
  • Low-Frequency Extension: There’s a nice but subtle use of silence in between the explosions of a terrorist bomb.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: 5.1 speaker set up won’t disappoint for those hectic crazed moments or the quiet ones.. Sounds excellent even with a soundbar.
  • Height: While this isn’t a feast for the ears type of flick a moment amongst art thieves delivers strong pieces of metal and concrete.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is loud and clear.


The Goldfinch sadly didn’t get a 4K release. Housed in the normal two-disc case with the theatrical poster art, a cardboard slipcover, and MoviesAnywhere digital redemption. The extras here are… fine.

  • The Goldfinch Unbound (HD, 12:56) – A pretty standard EPK behind-the-scenes look that includes the cast and crew. They discuss the challenge (and their love) for adapting Donna Tartt’s novel.
  • The Real Goldfinch (HD, 8:39) – A quick but compelling dive focused on the real Carel Fabritius painting. Also discussed is how the painting was “forged” to use in the film.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 11 scenes) – Nothing really remarkable but if you’re a fan of the book some scenes offer better context to the story. Then again, this film was already 149 minutes so…


Adaptations of any kind are a challenge. John Crowley’s The Goldfinch isn’t the slam dunk that his previous feature Brooklyn was but this is not the outright disaster one might have heard. Strong dual lead performances by Ansel Elgort and OakesFegley and a wonderful visual design by master DP Roger Deakins make this a fine addition to seekers of thoughtful (or at least going for “thoughtfulness”) prestige pics. This Blu ray is a fitting addition for those fans.

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