Posted on Thursday, September 19th, 2019 by Marshall Shaffer
Adapting Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Goldfinch for the screen was never going to be an easy task. At 771 pages, it would make a daunting TV miniseries – and director John Crowley managed to whittle it down into an under-two-and-a-half-hour feature film. As any team adapting existing material must, the filmmakers had to make a number of choices as to how they would present the story.
While the critical consensus seems mostly aligned against the changes to The Goldfinch, I tend to align with /Film’s own Meredith Borders in her review from TIFF. “The deliberate pacing and mysterious unveiling of information appear to have alienated many viewers,” she wrote out of the festival. “The film feels more like a gorgeous piece of emotional art than a straightforward story.” Whether that’s what people wanted – or felt – watching The Goldfinch, it was certainly the intent of the filmmaking team.
Just hours before the film’s world premiere in Toronto, I sat down for an extended discussion on the post-production of The Goldfinch with editor Kelley Dixon. Being fresh off both reading the novel and seeing the film, I came ready to dive into the nitty-gritty of how some of the biggest choices in the adaptation came to be. Her answers into both the larger structural changes, as well as some of the smaller details, proved an enlightening glimpse into a film that’s inspired strong reactions from viewers of many perspectives.