When war rocks the world and valuables are stolen or misplaced, said valuables need to be replaced or returned. Art is one type of valuable and in the wake of many wars, such as World War II, these pieces need to be returned to their rightful owners. The latest drama Woman in Gold focused on one such case where the famous painting, Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I was stolen from Maria Altmann’s family by the Nazis during that turbulent time. This film follows the true account of Altmann as she attempts to legally take back the painting which is rightfully her’s and her family’s. Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren and a spectacled Ryan Reynolds bring this fascinating story to life but sadly the results are a bit underwhelming.
Told in flashbacks and cuts to present day, Altmann’s (Mirren) story is the stuff of great drama and this film tells her story with a fine attempt by the classy actress anchoring it. The government of Austria currently has custody of Altmann’s painting and during the course of nearly a decade and with the help of her lawyer, Randy Schoenberg (Reynolds), Altmann’s quest to take back what is hers is told with plenty of flash and taste. A legal battle which goes all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States highlights Altmann’s unrelentless spirit and tough can-do attitude. She wants this painting back and she wants it bad. The film is a great example of perseverance and follows a real life figure who stopped at nothing to right the wrong she experienced.
Helen Mirren is a force to be reckoned with. Now, in her seventh decade, she continues to display the class, grace, and beauty many actresses this day strive to achieve but sadly don’t reach. She is a true professional and shows time and time again how to be a true lady. Her on screen relationship with Ryan Reynolds works for the most part and their banter is actually rather adorable. Unfortunately, Woman in Gold suffers from a meandering and rather boring plot. The idea of bringing Altmann’s story to the big screen probably seemed like a good one at the time but the film itself is pretty pointless.
Set in Vienna, there is plenty of history and culture to absorb in the visuals and of course the presence of Ms. Mirren is welcome in any film. As said before, her pitter patter with Reynolds is a delight and that is the film’s saving grace. There is even a small role from Katie Holmes as Schoenberg’s wife and Daniel Bruhl gives a solid performance Hubertus Czernin, an Austrian investigative journalist bent on getting to the bottom of the Altmann case. With such a powerful cast and a great setting, it’s a shame Woman in Gold didn’t do better with audiences and critics alike. There are many good pieces here but sadly, this is one puzzle that doesn’t contain all the pieces for success.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
There is the making of Woman in Gold, a feature commentary with director Simon Curtis and producer David M. Thompson, a Stealing Klimt documentary trailer, and a Neue Galerie press conference.