In "Woman In Gold" Helen Mirren Glitters Brightly
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
In 1907 Austrian artist Gustav Klimt painted a portrait of a patron of the arts named Adele Bloch-Bauer. Commissioned by Adele's husband, it was a 54" x 54" canvas in gold and oil. Klimt took three years to complete it.
Adele died in 1925 and when the Nazis took over Austria they confiscated the painting. It wound up in the Austrian State Gallery.
Adele’s niece sued the Austrian government for restitution of this and five other paintings. She was aided in her quest by an American lawyer. This is the basis for a new movie called "Woman in Gold" showing at Tropic Cinema.
In it, a determined young lawyer named E. Randal Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds in a serious role at last) helps Maria Altman (Dame Helen Mirren, of course) retrieve this famous painting. It’s a courtroom drama with an international flavor.
Others in the cast include Katie Holms, Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth McGovern, Frances Fisher, Charles Dance, and Jonathan Pryce -- with Antje Traue as Adele, and Moritz Bleibtreu as Gustav Klimt.
The script was penned with the real-life Randal Schoenberg’s help.
Although a hold-your-attention film, it has a few shortcomings. All the Austrian gallery owners and their lawyers are made out to be "heel-clicking Nazis in all but name and uniform." Ryan Reynolds is too goy for the role of a Jewish descendant from two Austrian composers. And director Simon Curtis is sometimes heavy handed in his retelling of this historical pastiche.
But Mirren is magnificent in this feel-good tale of social injustice set right.