Movie: Woman In Gold
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: Around 1938 in Austria, it is a bad time for the Jewish population. Nazi Germany has annexed Austria, and the Jews are being subjected to the same brutal tactics as in the Fatherland, especially where the wealthy are concerned. The Altmann family is very rich and live in a fine house full of expensive art works. One in particular, Gustav Klimt’s masterpiece Portrait Of Adele Bloch-Bauer, is stolen by the Nazis and never returned to the family after the war. Sixty years later in 1998, a feisty 80 year old Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) marches into a Los Angeles law office and asks for help to force an art museum in Austria to return her family’s painting, commonly referred to as The Woman In Gold. A young American lawyer of Austrian ancestry, Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds) takes on the case.
So begins a quest that goes on for several years, taking Maria Altmann back to Austria, a country she vowed to never return to. Randol Schoenberg believes in the merits of the case, despite the career and financial hardship it costs him to pursue the matter. Their David and Goliath legal fight took them all the way to the United States Supreme Court (Austria v. Altmann) before it was decided.
This is one of those wonderful small films that come along just a few times a year that have a great cast and a compelling story. This one has the added benefit of being true. I would urge movie goers to see this picture before it is squeezed out of theaters to make room for the action laden summer blockbusters in May.
Actresses To Watch: Of course Helen Mirren is magnificent in this role, as she always is. She is one of the grand dames of films along with Judi Dench and Meryl Streep. But pay attention to the 29 year old actress Tatiana Maslany that plays Maria Altmann as a young woman. She is truly an up and coming star, and you should watch her amazing television show on BBC America, Orphan Black, where she plays at least five separate characters.
Dialogue Nuggets: Randol to Maria – “Against my better judgment I like you.”
Maria – “The Austrians welcomed the Nazis with flowers and open arms.”
Austrian – “The Woman In Gold is Austria’s Mona Lisa. They will never let it go!”
Austrian Man to Maria – “Why don’t you just go away? Everything is not about the Holocaust!”