The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Woman in Gold | Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Tatiana Maslany, Daniel Brühl, Jonathan Pryce, Katie Holmes | Review

Submit to DeliciousSubmit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google BookmarksSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TechnoratiSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

4sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD Judy Thorburn

judy-thorburn-editorLas Vegas Round The Clock -
Women's Film Critic Circle -
Nevada Film Critics Society -
Nevada Film Alliance -
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

4lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD


Woman in Gold

During World War II the Nazis stole works of art and other personal valuables from the homes of Jewish families before sending the innocent people to concentration camps and their death.

One of those paintings, a portrait of a woman named Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt wound up hanging in the Belvedere gallery in Vienna and was renamed The Woman in Gold, so as not to identify her as a Jew.

This film, directed by Simon Curtis (My Week With Marilyn), working from a script by first time screenwriter Alexi Kaye Campbell, tells the true story of Adele's niece Maria Altmann's agonizing legal battle with the Austrian government to retrieve the painting of her beloved late aunt that was rightfully hers.

Oscar winning British actress Helen Mirren shines (despite her less than convincing Austrian accent) in her portrayal of Maria Altmann more than fifty years after, as a young Jewish woman, she and her husband escaped from Nazi controlled Austria and fled to the U.S.

In 1998, Maria was an elderly dress-shop owner in Los Angeles when she met with Randy Schoenberg, (a credible Ryan Reynolds) a plucky young attorney, family friend, and grandson of composer Arnold Schoenberg, who helped her reclaim the valuable property so wrongly ripped from her family.  After WWII the painting eventually became known as the Mona Lisa of Austria, was worth over $100 million, and declared a national treasure by the Austrian government. Sixty years later a restitution project was supposedly underway in Vienna which was aimed at returning some stolen artwork to Holocaust survivors and their families. Yet when Maria, who promised herself she would never go back to her homeland, but returns to Austria with Schoenburg to make a plea for their case, they lose to a government who refuses to concede and let the painting go. Not willing to give up, Schoenberg finds a loophole to benefit  and charges ahead by taking their struggle all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and eventually back to Austria where they go before an arbitration committee in hopes of finally seeking justice.

Director Curtis delivers a compelling story in which the most emotionally riveting scenes are captured in a series of flashbacks that evoke a keen sense of time and place thanks to the beautiful production design and camerawork. Recalled are Maria's life as a young woman (played by Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany) from a wealthy, close knit, Jewish family in Vienna, including some poignant moments she shared with her Aunt Adele (Antje Traue), her wedding, and what she and her husband (Max Irons) had to endure as they made their intense and terrifying escape to America, knowing too well what the outcome would be for her mother and ill father (Allan Corduner) after they were forced to leave them behind.

Teaming up with powerhouse, veteran actress Mirren is not an easy job for the less accomplished actor, but Reynolds holds his own as the true life attorney who initially takes on the case because of the potential of high monetary rewards, but has an epiphany at a Holocaust memorial that triggers a renewed sense of his Jewish identity.

In other small supporting roles are Katie Holmes as Randy's supportive wife, Charles Dance as Randy's boss, and Daniel Bruhl as an Austrian investigative reporter driven to help make up for the abominable sins of his father and country. Also appearing in cameo roles are Elizabeth McGovern as a court judge and Jonathan Pryce as Supreme Court Judge Rehnquist.

Woman in Gold is a very good movie that could have been even better if the story had just stuck with dramatic execution without having to inject occasional cliches and unnecessary, humorous and sassy dialogue from Altmann, who otherwise is portrayed as smart, classy and with strong morals.

Without knowing how much creative license was taken in bringing this true story to screen, what effect the story should have on audiences has not been compromised. Women in Gold is not only another inspiring story about an underdog against all odds, it as important, relevant story about seeking justice for abominable sins of the past and to do what is right to keep the memory of loved ones alive.

Despite some minor issues, Woman In Gold is unquestionably worth seeing and yes, memorable.


You are here: Home Judy Thorburn Woman in Gold | Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Tatiana Maslany, Daniel Brühl, Jonathan Pryce, Katie Holmes | Review