WOMAN IN GOLD | REVIEW

I will get it out there – I worship everything Helen Mirren, I bloody love her, she is a goddess and like Meryl, Dench, Winslett, Leo and Zac, can do no wrong. I will buy tickets to see Mirren read ingredients lists on cake packets and it is my goal in life to see her as the first female Doctor Who. So you could say I was a little excited to be seeing WOMAN IN GOLD. It was a delightful evening with huge thanks to Roadshow Films who threw a soiree in the appropriate Gold Class at Event Cinemas George Street. We got wines and luxurious lounge chairs, amazing presentation, I met a nice film critic who shared our little section and we were served a mini high-tea platter in the middle of the movie. The evening was amazing. WOMAN IN GOLD releases this Thur 21st May in Australia, it is rated M and runs for 109mins.

 

WOMAN IN GOLD AUSTRALIAN POSTER IMAGE
WOMAN IN GOLD | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | AUSTRALIAN POSTER IMAGE

 

BY JASON KING

WOMAN IN GOLD is the story of two ladies, a painting, history, a lovely young lawyer, Nazis, Hitler, WWII, Austria, fraud, theft, doing what is right and family.

The film is based on the true story of the late Maria Altmann, an elderly Jewish refugee living in Los Angeles, who, together with her young lawyer, Randy Schoenberg, fought the government of Austria for almost a decade to reclaim Gustav Klimt’s iconic painting of her aunt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (otherwsie known as WOMAN IN GOLD), which was confiscated from her relatives by the Nazis in Vienna just prior to World War II. Altmann took her legal battle all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled in her favor in Republic of Austria v. Altmann (2004).

The movie is enjoyable, well acted, it looks good, it has a brilliant true life story but it is weak in its delivery, and almost Disneyesque in its need to feel good. It is nearly a saccharine filled version of PHILOMENA, at times even too sweet to take. This is a film your grandma will think is the best movie ever made and will remember it forever. While dealing with some harrowing things it is handled in a very glossy fashion and always looks beautiful.

 

WOMAN IN GOLD MOVIE IMAGE
WOMAN IN GOLD | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | RANDOL SCHOENBERG (RYAN REYNOLDS)

 

Regardless of its level of feel good and glossy occupation and escape I still enjoyed it (see comment on Mirren :)). It is saved from drowning in schmaltz from the as-always glorious Helen Mirren, even though she is playing the OTT feel-good, nearly two dimensional character and something I never thought I would say, a magnificent performance from Ryan Reynolds, who I thought was as good as Mirren in his role, their chemistry worked splendidly. I am dumbfounded at Reynolds though, he looks fifteen years younger in this movie, he is bloody Benjamin Buttoning on us!!

The movie does use a fair few flashbacks as Maria Altmann (Mirren) remembers her past as she is forced to deal with it to move forward. And the characters in the past were well acted by Tatiana Maslany (Young Maria) and Max Irons (Fritz, her husband). Hello Max Irons, the guy is gorgeous and totally pin-up worthy. Meow!! One question though. What happened to Fritz, Maria’s husband? He is in the past but his part in the present is never mentioned.

The cast is rounded out with a good minor supporting role from the always enjoyable Daniel Brühl but one minor gripe about two people – why was Katie Holmes playing a ridiculously small supporting “wife” role, she is not that desperate for cash and also why was Charles Dance necessary for another incredibly small and insignificant role? These roles could have gone to less known actors, because of their casting I was expecting more from their characters, surely someone could have at least shot Dance on a toilet or similar :).

 

WOMAN IN GOLD MOVIE IMAGE
WOMAN IN GOLD | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | YOUNG MARIA ALTMANN (TATIANA MASLANY) AND FRITZ (MAX IRONS)

 

Director Simon Curtis brings us a good looking movie, it has the feel of a movie that was aiming for Oscars but sadly falls short instead embracing a more Hallmark approach to script. It gives you a nice hug and at times I did shed a tear, but more so from Randol’s realisation when looking at the war memorial than at the huge injustice of everything the Altmann’s and all the people who suffered went through. WOMAN IN GOLD should have swept us all from our feet, made us weep, and then make us stand and cheer at justice and the right thing being done but instead it made me just think that the movie was nice, and while enjoyable if there was no Mirren or Reynolds, this would be a midday television movie that would be quickly forgotten.

 

3 Pops