AS you can see from the stars above, The Herald still goes old school with its ratings. I’m thinking of suggesting a change, though, brought on by the ever longer lengths of movies this year. After the 161-minute Once Upon a Time in America and the only slightly longer It: Chapter Two comes The Goldfinch. Instead of stars I’m pondering a row of support stockings, to ward off the DVT risk, or toilets, signifying the number of loo trips required?

The Goldfinch is definitely a two toilet and support socks affair. In length and general Dickensian sweep, the film is in keeping with its source material, Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel. Fans of the book will like it for hardly leaving anything out, while others might be bored stiff for the same reason. Still, like the titular missing painting at the core of the tale, it is quite the banquet for the eyes.

We first meet the central character, Theo Decker, as an adult. New Yorker Theo (played by Ansel Elgort) still blames himself for the death of his mother, killed in an explosion when he was a boy. Had they not been on their way to the principal’s office to answer for him having cigarettes, and had they not popped into a museum because they were early for the appointment, she might yet be alive. The road not taken, the corner unturned.

That fateful day, pieced together in flashback, is the thread which holds the story together. It is a long thread, taking in young Theo’s informal adoption by a rich school friend’s family, headed by Nicole Kidman as the quintessential upper East Side matriarch; his meeting the antiques restorer who puts him on a career path and acts as a father figure; and his going to live with his real father and his girlfriend (Luke Wilson and Sandra Paulson). All the while another strand unspools: Theo’s increasing use of drugs to fill the void left by his mother’s absence.

Director John Crowley (Brooklyn), working from a screenplay by Peter Straughan (Wolf Hall, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), refuses to kill any of Tartt’s darlings, which makes the resulting movie a slog to get through.

There is too much of Theo in buttoned up mode, and not enough focus on his wilder side, a pity because Elgort excels at the latter.

It is only towards the latter stages, when the painting comes front and centre again, that the movie acquires some much needed pep. There are other pleasing distractions, including the appearance of Finn Wolfhard from Stranger Things as Theo’s friend, Boris, Kidman’s performance as an ice queen with a warm heart, and Paulson as a pill dealing step-mommie who is not so not so dearest, but overall this bird fails to fly.