Movie Review: Woman in Gold


The true story behind Woman in Gold is quite interesting, and one that I had never heard of: a woman, Adele Bloch-Bauer, is painted by a famous painter - Gustav Klimt. However, when the Nazis invade Austria, they take all of the paintings from her niece and niece's family. The painting later becomes the Mona Lisa of Austria, and ends up in a museum there; but 50 years later, Adele's niece wants the painting back.

It's been about 50 years since Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) and her husband fled Austria, which had been taken under Nazi control. Her younger self (Tatiana Maslany) had a narrow escape from the country, and she had to leave her parents and her homeland behind. She and her husband eventually end up in LA, and she asks a friend (Frances Fisher) if her lawyer son, Randol (Ryan Reynolds) could perhaps help her with a legal matter. It turns out that the legal matter will involve suing the Austrian government, in order to get her aunt's portrait back, as well as a few other small Klimt portraits that the Nazis took from Maria's family. Maria also has no desire to go back to Austria, but Randol convinces her to go, and she must re-confront her home country and the painful memories she made there.

I actually liked the flashbacks in this movie better than the present-day events, because they were interesting and the present-day events often moved slowly. Mirren and Reynolds are good in their roles, and have fun chemistry; Katie Holmes also has a small but forgettable part as Reynolds' wife and mother of their two children. In the flashbacks, Maslany was great at playing the young Maria Altmann, and her husband was played by Max Irons. In present-day, there's also an Austrian journalist, played by Daniel Brühl (Rush), that helps Mirren and Reynolds fight the government, and Bruhl has a small but important role.

Yes, see this film - just be prepared for a bit of slowness, and also bring some tissues with you. This wasn't my favorite role of Mirren's in the films that I've seen her in, but the story itself is true and definitely worth telling, as it's an interesting one. Altmann's aunt's portrait actually currently sits in the Neue Gallery in NYC, so if I find myself back in that city at some point, I'm going to go check it out. It was also interesting to see in the movie how although Austria set up an art reparations committee and (at least "on paper") wanted to reunite stolen art back with its original owners, part of the country was still in denial about its part in the Holocaust era; there's one scene where a man approaches Mirren's character and says something like "great speech today; but does everything still have to be about the Holocaust with you people?" which was rather shocking.Woman in Gold should do well in theaters solely because of its cast, but if you haven't heard of it before this review, I recommend seeing it.

Woman in Gold is in theaters today, April 3rd, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 109 minutes. 3.5 stars out of 5.

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