The first trailer for Ansel Elgort’s latest project, The Goldfinch, the film adaptation of Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, just hit YouTube. The young actor, also known as DJ Ansolo, stars as Theo Decker, who at 13 witnesses his mother’s death in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the aftermath of the explosion, he grabs his mother’s favorite painting: Carel Fabritius’s The Goldfinch. He then toggles between living with wealthy family friends on Park Avenue and his deadbeat father in Las Vegas, keeping the painting hidden all the while. He becomes an antiques dealer and gets wrapped up in drugs and a blackmail scheme.
It’s a pretty long book.
The Goldfinch, despite its best-seller status and many prizes, was met with somewhat mixed reviews (Tartt’s first effort, the widely beloved The Secret History, is more highly regarded). The film, directed by Brooklyn’s John Crowley, also features Nicole Kidman (in a trademark wig), Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, Jeffrey Wright, and newly minted Saint Laurent model Finn Wolfhard. The trailer is appropriately intense, with lots of crying and a soundtrack supplied by rising movie-trailer king Perfume Genius (his work previously lent power to the trailer for Eighth Grade). It is prime Oscar bait!
It’s an exciting release. But what the trailer does not do is explain Ansel Elgort’s recent, entirely mystifying Instagram posts, which we are choosing to read as performance art. Yesterday, May 28, he posted no fewer than 17 shirtless selfies within the span of 10 minutes. They are dramatic. Yearning. Inscrutable. Twitter promptly had a field day.
While it’s hard to choose, this seems like a clear highlight.
It’s possible that Elgort was hacked. Or perhaps it was a way to tease excitement for the trailer release. But it’s more fun to think of this as a strong aesthetic choice, or perhaps a mild cry for help. If Elgort wishes to provide answers, we are available.