Friday, April 3
REVIEW: Woman in Gold
Directed by Simon Curtis
1 hour 49 minutes
From The Weinstein Company
It is based on a true story of Jewish refugee, Maria Altmann, who takes on the Austrian government to retrieve an artwork (titled like that of the film) among the many possessions that the Nazis stole from her family around WWII and now sits in a museum in Vienna. It is worth many millions but she is not as interested in retrieving it for financial gain as she is for justice. The Austrians, of course, are not about to hand it over easily because it is now considered a national treasure.
Maria speaks to her friend about her quest and the friend suggests her son, an up and coming attorney, gets involved. They take a liking to one another and form a bond of trust despite a considerable age difference. Her partnership with him is heightened when she realizes he, too, is from an old Austrian family. As the story evolves Maria's quest for justice is tempered with a weariness from all the resistance she encounters. When she wants to quit and insists that he does as well, he doesn't.
One of the aspects that I quite enjoyed was Maria's backstory of her life in Austria. It was compelling, done well and not intrusive to the main story.
There is little doubt as to why the character of Maria Altmann appealed to Mirren. Altmann is a bit spunky, talkative and steely which she mixes with wry amusement and self-doubt. It gives the actress an opportunity to do all those things that we fans quite enjoy about her.
Ryan Reynolds must be taking a sabbatical from the silly stuff he usually does and fits like a glove into the lawyer role. His role is not at all secondary to Mirren's but all the other actors have rather brief parts.
Daniel Brühl as an Austrian reporter who helps the pair over some of the humps, Katie Holmes as Reynolds' understanding spouse and Tatiana Maslany as the young Maria have the most screen time of the supporting cast.
This is only the second theatrical film for director Simon Curtis. His first one, My Week With Marilyn, made my 50 Favorite Films list, so I am encouraged that he has turned out another pleasing film. (Nice, too, that he hired his wife, Elizabeth McGovern, to play a cameo role as a judge.)
The film had some nice points to make about justice, family, friendship, loyalty and trust that I liked very much. In some ways it may remind others of Philomena in that it concerns a younger man off on a journey to help an older woman find some peace of mind. I much preferred this to the former.
Of course, it didn't hurt that there were some beautiful shots of Vienna.
Frankly, I don't much care what the story is. Put one of those British dames in the lead and I am so there.