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How ‘The Goldfinch’ Seeks Authenticity

In “Anatomy of a Scene,” we ask directors to reveal the secrets that go into making key scenes in their movies. See new episodes in the series each Friday. You can also watch our collection of more than 150 videos on YouTube and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

This scene from “The Goldfinch” starts with a pair of chairs that look mighty similar. But only one is an antique with a long, rich history. The other merely replicates that history. In a film where the primary characters are trying to parse truth from fiction, authentic from impostor, the chairs are an apt metaphor.

Oakes Fegley plays the young Theo Decker, struggling to make sense of what’s real after surviving a bombing that killed his mother. He finds solace at an antique shop run by Hobie (Jeffrey Wright) and, in this scene, gets a lesson in authenticity.

Narrating the sequence, the director John Crowley explains how Wright met with art experts trained in spotting replicas and how that encounter helped him bring a tactile approach to his performance. Here he teaches Theo what to look for, and feel for, to recognize a reproduction.

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