I’ve always been a fan of movies which tell real stories, and even more so when the stories are deeply rooted in history. Woman In Gold in a perfect example of that.
Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) is an elderly Austrian Jew who settled in the US during WWII. Upon the death of her sister, she finds letters from a lawyer in Vienna, suggesting that family-owned paintings by Klimt have been illegally displayed at the State Museum in Vienna for decades. Seeking the help of a friend’s son, young lawyer Randol Shoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), she starts to investigate the claim.
Throughout the movie, flashbacks tell the story of Maria’s family, the Bloch-Bauer’s of Vienna. Along with her sister, parents, aunt and uncle, they formed a loving family unit. Very rich and highly cultured, Maria’s aunt Adele (Antje Traue) held a salon where many artists of the time met regularly, among which Gustav Klimt. Her husband Ferdinand (Henry Goodman) commissioned Klimt to paint his wife: Woman in Gold.
As Maria (Tatiana Maslany) grows older and marries famous Opera singer Fritz Altmann (Max Irons -yum), her happiness is only overshadowed by the growing unrest in Austria. Following the Anschluss, the Nazis put the Bloch-Bauer family on house arrest and loots their home, taking their many paintings, jewels and instruments. Desperate to flee a country she does not recognise anymore, Maria must leave her parents behind and try to rejoin her uncle and sister abroad.
Back in the 90s, Randol has managed to sort out a trip to Vienna in order to find out more. Maria eventually accepts to accompany him and they befriend a local journalist, Hubertus Czernin (Daniel Brühl) who will aid them in their quest. As more and more obstacles are thrown in their path, Maria and Randol must fight to keep their spirits up and accomplish what they set out to do.
I went in expecting a good time. I came out sniffling and in awe. Maybe because it’s a BBC production, or because it was incredibly well-cast, but something made this film one I will recommend to everyone I see. Helen Mirren was amazing, even managing a decent enough German accent when speaking English. Ryan Reynolds was dorkily attractive, which is a change from his usually ‘hottie” roles.
Max Irons and other non-German speakers fared incredibly well in sounding convincingly Austrian. The cast had sufficient Germans to be believable. Settings and costumes were accurate. The emotions were intense and I gripped the edge of my seat a few times. All in all, a movie worth spending money for.
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