Helen Mirren loves her art. This is evidenced by her commitment to her roles and the way that she merges with the characters that she plays. Woman in Gold is no exception. Mirren is excellent as an aging Jewish woman who has recently become aware of a painting displayed in Austria that rightfully belongs to her family. This film adds to Mirren’s insanely diverse filmography that includes Prime Suspect, Calendar Girls, The Queen, Gosford Park, Shadowboxer, The Debt, Red, and Hundred Foot Journey. Dare I compare her to Meryl Streep in this regard?
Woman in Gold is based on the true story of Maria Altmann and her family, living in Austria at the time of World War II. Maria’s aunt had been the subject of a painting done by the renowned Gustav Klimt, and this painting remained in Austria for decades before Maria learned of the circumstances surrounding its whereabouts. In the film, Maria (Mirren), decides to pursue the recovery of this artwork, and meets up with a young lawyer, Randol Schoenberg (played wonderfully by Ryan Reynolds, also displaying his versatility as an actor) to aid her in this quest. A comparison could be made here to Philomena, where an older woman who needed help is aided by a younger man, and an interesting relationship between the two ensues.
In addition to this relationship, Woman in Gold offers much more. The backstory is told in flashback style, and it’s an effective means of fleshing out the family story and also providing a bit of a history lesson on the actions of the Nazis, particularly around theft of artwork and other belongings.
There’s also some nice character development with the supporting players, some courtroom drama, an extended suspense scene for viewers who enjoy an adrenaline rush, and there’s some beautiful photography.
Woman in Gold skillfully blends multiple themes to create a very satisfying viewing experience, and I recommend it highly. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 7/7/15