Film Review – Woman in Gold

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Woman in Gold

Helen Mirren plays Maria Altmann, an elderly Jewish woman, who 60 years after she first fled Vienna to avoid persecution, attempts to reclaim family possessions that were seized by the Nazis.

It’s directed by Simon Curtis who gave us My Week With Marilyn a few years back.

With the help of young lawyer Randy Schoeberg (Ryan Reynolds), Maria embarks upon a lengthy legal battle to recover a famous portrait of Maria’s beloved Aunt Adele: Gustave Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I.”, aka Woman in Gold, which is pretty much an impossible task, as Austria considers them national treasures, and essential hopes to prolong any legal wrangling long enough to outlive Maria herself.

The Second World War has always been a popular choice for filmmakers for a variety of reasons, primarily because it’s in living memory for a generation of people, there’s boundless stories from the years of conflict and we are fascinated by the utter incomprehensible perversity of the Nazis.

We’ve seen this topic of art stolen by the Nazis before, most recently in The Monuments Men, but that played more like an action comedy while Woman in Gold is all about the drama surrounding Maria escaping with her life in WW2, and the injustice of having the government of her birthplace refuse to hand over what is rightfully hers.

It’s a painting of her aunt for God’s sakes.

Ryan Reynolds and Helen Mirren banter back and forth and this makes a big part of the film, you’ll either love that or not. He infuses his character with sufficient charm and grit to make it work, while she plays the tough as nails old survivor, who of course, has a heart of … ahem… gold.

The overall treatment of the film makes it feel like a bit of a TV movie of the week, but it’s a compelling story and gets by on the solid performances of the two leads and Daniel Bruhl who pops up as an investigative journalist with unclear motives.

3 & 1/2 Stars.

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