Film Friday: The Goldfinch

When 13-year-old Theo and his mother visit a New York art gallery they are caught in a terrorist attack, a bomb blast which buries Theo in a carpet of ash, and kills his mother. In the midst of the carnage Theo meets a dying man who urges him to rescue a painting of a Goldfinch. Theo, dazed, does so, and carries the picture with him through the years ahead. He is fostered by a caring, stable family, but is then taken away into a more chaotic existence by his estranged father and his dad’s new girlfriend. The turbulence of his early years leads him into a life of alcohol and drugs. And regret.

Here’s a brief overview of the film, albeit in short snatches of scenes.

Theo is haunted by memories of their visit to the art gallery on that fateful day, and he feels somehow responsible for his mother’s death. He carries this emotional devastation within him, and it affects so much of his existence. He tries to escape the pain with drugs and alcohol and reckless living, but to no avail. He seems trapped. So many things in this life, the mishaps, mistakes, ambushes, can threaten to overwhelm us and hold us captive.

In Psalm 29 the writer assures us that our God is bigger than all that seems powerful in this life. His voice, we are told is more powerful than the mightiest oak, or the most arid desert, more powerful than searing lightning or the chaos of the oceans. The last couple of verses remind us that in life’s maelstrom he can give us strength and peace, and that God rules over the deep waters. I take this to mean the deepest places of our lives. The hurts and regrets, the longings, fears and hopes. He understands these more than we do. Nothing is beyond his reach. Even in the darkest storms and harshest chaos we may call out and find him. No place too dark.

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Comments

  1. Mark Roques says:

    Thanks for this Dave. I’ve read Psalm 29 but to be honest the film with the terrorist bombing does not take me immediately to this psalm. It is true that God reigns and God is bigger than all that seems powerful in this life. However the film clip forces me to think about evil and God’s toleration of evil in this age. If I have time with folk and in particular with students I outline Buddhist, Hindu, Pagan and materialist ways of making sense of the horrors of bombing etc and I then explain how CS Lewis talks about the battle raging around us between Christ and Satan. I know it is not fashionable to talk about the powers of darkness that oppose God’s kingdom but sometimes we need to talk about this difficult topic.

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