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Woman in Gold - Film Review

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Published May 22nd 2015
The path to justice is filled with painful memories
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Images © The Weinstein Company & BBC Films.

An extraordinarily true story, Woman in Gold is about getting justice. Austria's famous painting and national treasure, the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (she's the only one Klimt painted twice), commissioned by her husband in 1907 is an oil, silver and gold on canvas (140 × 140 cm) painted by Gustav Klimt.

However, to Maria Altmann, this Lady in Gold was just her beloved aunt Adele who was like a mother to her. Sixty years after she fled Vienna during World War II, and upon the death of her sister, she's determined to have returned what was taken from her Jewish family by the Nazis.

woman in gold, movie review, film review, helen mirren, ryan reynolds, daniel bruhl, katie holmes, klimt lady in gold

She goes about enquiring after a family friend's lawyer son because she wants someone she can trust. A bit green around the gills, Randol Schoenberg (grandson of famous composers Arnold Schoenberg and Eric Zeisl) and Maria Altmann (best friend from childhood of Schoenberg's maternal grandmother) make an unlikely pair planning to challenge the Austrian government.

In trying to retrieve the painting of her aunt and other Klimt paintings Maria and Randol embark upon a major battle which takes them all the way to Austria and the U.S. Supreme Court. Opening this can of worms means Maria has to confront her feelings about her past, which is retold in flashback.

Upon reaching Austria they find an unlikely ally in investigative journalist Hubertus Czernin who warns them that many doors will be shut in their faces and that he might just be the man to help open some of the doors. The whole film then goes on to document the years that ensued covering the recovery of what was rightfully owned by Maria and her family.

woman in gold, movie review, film review, helen mirren, ryan reynolds, daniel bruhl, katie holmes, klimt lady in gold

This is no great Academy Award winner but I found it very endearing and delightful to watch. The fact that it was a true story was astonishing. Reynolds and Mirren go through the paces with pockets of humour much like the relationship between driver and employer in the movie 'Driving Miss Daisy'. Daniel Brühl, an actor I admire, plays but a small role as the investigative journalist, which almost made it seem unnecessary.

Helen Mirren carries the film well like the true professional that she is and Ryan Reynolds plays the easily half strong-armed (by Mirren) lawyer sensitively and draws our affection towards the relationship of the two leading actors. I give this a 5 out of 10.

Here's a bit of trivia. A patron and friend of Klimt, Adele, the 'Woman in Gold' is said to have been having an affair with the artist at the time he was painting her. Klimt is said to have had an animal magnetism and was the biological father of 18 children in his time (14 July 1862 to 6 February 1918). He was also known to paint in a smock with no underwear.

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Why? A movie about Justice and returning what is rightfully someone elses.
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