As someone who loves reading just as much as she loves watching movies, very little in pop culture makes me happier and hearing that one of my favorite books is being adapted into a film. Harry Potter? Gone Girl? The Fault in Our Stars? Even when they involve tricky material, I always have faith that my beloved books are going to turn into equally-beloved movies. Yet I just can't get on board with the news that The Goldfinch, Donna Tarrt's 2013 bestseller, might get adapted for the big screen. Yes, it's a fantastic novel, but it's simply not meant to be turned into a film.
For those who haven't yet found the time to pick up the sprawling, Pulitzer-Prize winning book, The Goldfinch is about a teenage boy who, after his mother dies in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, takes off with a famous painting. The story follows him for over two decades, as he goes from New York to Las Vegas, childhood to adulthood.
According to Variety, Warner Bros. is attempting to acquire the rights to the acclaimed novel, and while no deal has been set, Tartt is definitely considering allowing her work to be adapted into film. As a major fan of the book, I truly hope she chooses to turn the studio down. You see, while The Goldfinch is a wonderful, captivating novel, I have major doubts that it'll work as a movie. Here's my spoiler-free reasons why:
It's Too Long
784 pages, to be exact. That's a whole lot of book to adapt, especially if the screenwriters — as they should — want to keep the majority of the plot. Books that long rarely get adapted, and the ones that do tend to either veer drastically from the source material or split into two parts. Sure, there are exceptions, but they're extremely rare.
Well, not totally true. Plenty of stuff does happen — just not the kind of stuff that tends to thrill moviegoers. After the initial explosion at the museum, the plot slows down, with the main character, Theo, spending a few hundred pages hanging out with friends, wandering around town, and figuring out his identity. In a beautifully-written book, that kind of meandering works fine, but in a movie? Not exactly compelling stuff.
It's About Art
Although the majority of the book has to do with Theo's coming-of-age, not the painting he stole from the Met, art still is a major aspect of the novel. Theo obsesses over "The Goldfinch," where it came from and what he should do with it, now that it's in his possession. As history will show, movies about art tend not to do too well. Artists? Sure. Actual, specific pieces of artwork? Not so much.
It's Better Off as a Miniseries, if Anything
Look, I don't think any adaptation of The Goldfinch is necessary, but if Tartt really does want it to happen, let's hope she says no to the movie offer and considers making a miniseries, instead. That way, the plot wouldn't have to be shortened, and the lack of major action wouldn't be as big of a deal. According to Variety, the author is thinking about going this route, so there's definitely a possibility a better — not great, but better — adaptation of the book will come our way.
It's Just Too Good
I know, I know: plenty of great books have become great movies. It's entirely possible that if The Goldfinch does get made into a film, it'll exceed my expectations tremendously, and I sincerely hope that that's the case. But I'm worried that it won't be, and that a subpar adaptation will ruin the perfection of the book. Because the book is perfect — long and dense and a commitment, yes, but beautiful and eloquent and a pleasure to read. Please, Hollywood, if you know what's best, leave The Goldfinch alone. It's just too good to risk.