Film Review: Woman in Gold

Woman In Gold tells the incredible true story of an Austria-born, America-based, elderly Jewish woman and her battle to reclaim her heritage. Starring the always-engaging Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann, the film revolves around the ownership of a painting. If that sounds boring, it isn’t. You see, the painting in question is Klimt’s world-famous Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. She was Altmann’s auntie. The beautiful picture was just one of a number of family possessions stolen by the Nazis during the war.

Sixty years after fleeing Vienna, Altmann starts her journey to retrieve family possessions and through doing so, seek a small amount of justice for her murdered family. Maybe she’ll even get some closure. She teams up with inexperienced young lawyer Randy Schoenberg (played by Ryan Reynolds) and embarks upon a battle which goes all the way to the heart of the Austrian establishment and the US Supreme Court.

Essentially, this film is Philomena, with Nazis stealing gold rather than the Catholic Church stealing babies, with Mirren instead of Dench and with Reynolds in Coogan’s place. But otherwise, it is strikingly similar. An odd couple taking on the seemingly immovable establishment and learning a whole lot about themselves along the way. This isn’t a criticism, by the way. Far from it. Philomena was an absolutely magnificent film, so to compare Woman In Gold to it is paying this new offering a big compliment.

Katie Holmes plays the long-suffering yet understanding wife of Schoenberg in an understated way, and it’s always great to see Goodbye Lenin‘s Daniel Brühl. Meanwhile, Mirren is great as a stubborn-yet-impish old goat and her accent is spot-on. The narrative travels at a comfortable pace and the flashback scenes of Nazi-occupied Vienna are harrowing without being graphic.

Directed by Simon Curtis, this is a really well-crafted film which tells its interesting story in a sympathetic and engaging way.

Woman In Gold will be released in Australian cinemas on May 21.

bobby townsend


Review by Bobby Townsend.