When I sat down to watch Woman In Gold I found a charming, heart-warming story told fantastically by the brilliant Hellen Mirren.
Woman in Gold tells the story of Maria Altmann (Mirran), a Jewish exile from Austria in. When we meet her she has been living in America for most of her life, forced to flee her home country in WWII when the Nazis tore through her home city, resulting in her family falling victim to horrific and demeaning acts.
When the Nazis got to Maria’s home they took all her family’s wealth and possessions, but to Maria the possession that matters most is a painting of her favorite aunt – Adele Bloch-Bauer. The painting was done by artist Gustav Klimt and is referred to as “The Woman In Gold”, after the Nazis changed it to remove any connection to its Jewish history.
The beginning of the movie has a beautiful sequence with a visually stunning interpretation of Klimt creating the real life iconic piece of art, with a shot of a bright glistening gold leaf that is prepped and added to the canvas to bring “The Woman In Gold” to life. This painting ended up hanging in the Austrian State Gallery, where it stayed for decades.
When a change takes place in the law Maria decides to seek the help of a young attorney and son of a friend, Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds). Together the two take on the Austrian Government who Maria sues to get back the art that was stolen from her family by the Nazis. The Austrian Government fight back to keep possession of the art, which they call “The Mona Lisa Of Austria” and a back and forth battle ensues.
Although the court scenes are compelling and the movie’s leads do give some powerful and inspiring performances here, it’s not which makes The Woman In Gold the wonderful movie that it is. You actually get a sense of the emotional connection between Maria and not just the painting of her aunt but all the pieces and all the memories of a happier time in her home land.
Mirren is great as Maria Altmann and her performance is nothing short of perfect. Reynolds unfortunately has the difficult task of looking like a good actor next to Mirren. He does deliver a good performance and you can’t help but start to get invested in his character as he starts to realize that this fight is not only for Maria but his family as well, as they also suffered at the hands of the Nazis. His relationship with Maria grows and this leads to some good on-screen chemistry when the pair play off each other, providing some humor to the movie as well.
Directed Simon Curtis plays out the story at a steady pace giving you enough time to get involved with the tough battle Maria endures, not only with the Austrian government currently, but also using flashback sequences to show you what Maria and her family had to go through under the Nazi regime. All of this gives you a better understanding of the importance of this painting to her.
Uplifting and enduring, The Woman In Gold is a movie that you need to watch and its available on DVD now.
Last Updated: December 23, 2015