#REVIEW: “WOMAN IN GOLD”
Despite the atrocities of World War II being well-documented, the World since has been gifted with some powerful stories of pain, perseverance and survival. WOMAN IN GOLD is a Story that needs to be told and a Film which leaves you feeling elevated through it all. Director Simon Curtis, dazzled us with 2011’s Golden Globe Award-winning My Week with Marilyn and comes back solid with this Drama based on a precedent-setting True Story.
Meet Maria Altman (Helen Mirren), an 80-year-old Holocaust Survivor who teams with her green Lawyer, E. Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds) and together they fight the unlikeliest of battles for restitution against the Austrian Government. The subject in question is a Gustav Klimt Painting of her dear Aunt Adele and it along with several other valuables are taken unrightfully from her Family’s Home amidst the Nazi Regime during the War. The Painting, worth in-excess of $100 million, hangs at the Belvedere Gallery, becoming a national Icon with which the Country isn’t quite willing to part. A young Maria (Tatiana Maslany) and her Husband Fitz (Max Irons) are forced to flee Austria, leaving behind their beloved Family in the name of survival. We see Maria hardened after years of disappointment and loss, in a desperate attempt to reclaim the Painting which above its value, is the one surviving symbol of the Family she was torn apart from. We witness both Randol and Maria battle their own demons within, struggling to overcome great obstacles placed their way in their fight for justice. Along the way, not only do they grow and learn from another, we see their attachment to their Motherland fortified, which surprises them even.
If Woman in Gold could be faulted for one thing, it is the lack of due detail it gives to the legal process which much of the Story centers upon. One of the Film’s most crucial moments involving deliberation late in the Film feels almost glossed-over and this in itself is an injustice. None can deny that Mirren is simply remarkable, disappearing completely into Maria‘s complex wave of emotions. She possesses an elegance and nobility which which keeps us invested despite her temperament sometimes getting the best of her. And that being said, Canada’s Maslany leaves a major impression here too, capturing the unbreakable loyalty which Maria has to her Family, laying the foundation for Mirren‘s Maria in modern day. Reynolds at times is fantastic, selling us on Randol‘s inexperience, part of which makes him so relatable even though it does take some time for him to find his best stride. We won’t go too much into the appalling lack of development between Randol and his Wife Pam (Katie Holmes), the latter relegated to a a ‘Yes Woman’ with no real concern for her Husband’s intermittent absence.
What the Film lacks in detail, it certainly makes-up for in charm. Curtis nails the occasional tonal shifts to humour, which brings light to what actually is a weighty, heartbreaking Story of injustice. Thanks to Mirren, we have reason enough to wait around for the Pay-Off.
eOne Films release WOMAN IN GOLD on Friday, April 3, 2015.