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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Movie Review - Woman in Gold

Woman in Gold (2015)
Starring Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Brühl, Katie Holmes, and Tatiana Maslany
Directed by Simon Curtis

While Woman in Gold doesn't reinvent any cinematic wheel of any kind, I came away from the film surprised by how much the true story of Maria Altmann kept my interest.  During the 1930s, Altmann  (played during this time period by Tatiana Maslany) and her wealthy Austrian Jewish family lived in Vienna.  However, when the Nazis invaded, the Altmann family's vast collection of art including five pieces by the revered artist Gustav Klimt was seized.  Maria and her sister escaped Austria and several decades later following her sister's death, Maria (now played by Helen Mirren) uncovers several of her sister's letters detailing attempts to get back these Klimt paintings which now reside in an Austrian museum with one piece in particular -- "Woman in Gold" -- being revered much in the same way as Paris's "Mona Lisa."  Maria hires Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), a young lawyer and family friend, to aid her in determining whether she has any pull in getting the paintings back to her -- the rightful owner.  Needless to say, the Austrian government is staunchly against this and the struggle to make this happen is a difficult one.

While the film follows typical "biopic" tropes, thanks to a nice performance from Helen Mirren, Women in Gold is oddly compelling.  Granted, the film has a lightness to it -- thanks to witty repartee between the older Maria and the younger Randy -- but that nicely counters the more serious aspects of the plot which admittedly seem a little bit glossed over at times with that Hollywood Magic sheen. Still, despite the lack of some emotional heft (especially considering the Holocaust storyline), there's still heart which some could possibly view as corny, but I found charming.

Helen Mirren helps to elevate the material as is typical of the great actress and, honestly, she probably makes the film more enjoyable than it really should be.  However, there's nothing particularly wrong with that.  The film itself at least tells a new story from a much-filmed cinematic time period and it does so with solid technique, making Woman in Gold worth a watch.

The RyMickey Rating:  B-

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