Woman In Gold (DVD)

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Woman In Gold (DVD)

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73% positive

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Review of "Woman In Gold (DVD)"

published 16/06/2015 | cr01
Member since : 13/05/2008
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Now writing music gig reviews for free tickets. Sorry ciao, less time for you now; just wish you hadn't stopped paying for music reviews.
Good
Pro Interesting story and Mirren's acting
Cons Not as good as it should have been
exceptional
Did you enjoy it?
Story
Characters / Performances
Special Effects
Soundtrack

"Woman in Gold - not that shiny"

My beloved does some volunteer work for a Romanian Hospital. The hospital she helps support is in a mid-sized but obscure Romanian town, and on her last visit the medical directors were concerned about how they might continue with the existing standard of care. Most of the hospital site comprise of old former palace buildings which were originally owned by families that fled during World War II and the later Soviet occupation. Families have now returned to claim their former properties and it seems likely that some or all of the hospital buildings will need to be returned. While I have sympathy with the families that lost items unfairly, in this case it seems hard given that it’s not either the fault of the hospital or the people that now use the facilities. In some cases wealthy foreigners are claiming property they have no intention of ever using for themselves whereas 70 years on they are well used and much needed public buildings. Given the torrid Romanian economy, you can bet your bottom dollar that these facilities will be very difficult to replace.

One has to ask who decides where we should morally draw the line on the question of property repatriation. Could the descendents of King Harold make a claim against the descendents of William the Conqueror for the spoils gained from his unwarranted aggression? Should I be able to claim on behalf of my peasant landless labourer predecessors for some of the wealth the land owners unreasonably accrued from their toil? To take it to its natural extension, it all rather feels like the rather silly habit we have got into where our leaders apologise and atone for the misdemeanours, errors and behaviours of previous generations and pretends it makes a difference.

Even when it comes to art repatriation I have something of a mixed feeling, although I appreciate it is something of a controversial stance to take. While I have no definitive answers, a viewing of the film Woman in Gold (no, it’s not a more colourful sequel to Woman in Black) has at least helped to inform my position.

Woman in Gold is based upon a true story about an elderly Jewish woman, Maria Altmann, who living in Los Angeles in the late 1990’s takes advantage of new laws, to try to pursue the Austrian Government for the return of 5 paintings that her parents owned before the War. These are no ordinary paintings; they were produced by Gustav Klimt for her family, and one, a portrait of Maria’s aunt (the “Woman in Gold”), is described as Austria’s “Mona Lisa” as it is almost as famous to Austrians. The paintings hang in a Vienna Museum to be viewed by millions on a yearly basis.
Woman In Gold

The story is a straightforward version of the legal struggles that Altmann and her friend’s son, who is a quirky young lawyer, go through to repatriate the paintings and restore the ownership to the family. The story is based on a real life tale, and, while I don’t like to give spoilers, ha, it would be perhaps a poor plot if the long struggle eventually failed.

There is a strong cast with Helen Mirren leading an acting master class as Maria Altmann, and Ryan Reynolds manfully coping with the slightly one dimensional role of the lawyer, Randol Schoenberg. These two characters have the lion’s share of the film, although it includes a number of moving flashback scenes to Maria’s childhood in Vienna, filmed in sumptuous surroundings, and her marriage during the turbulent times as the Nazis were spreading their influence and things were turning ugly.
Cast (stolen from wiki)

Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann
Tatiana Maslany as young Maria Altmann
Ryan Reynolds as Randol (Randy) Schoenberg
Daniel Brühl as Hubertus Czernin
Katie Holmes as Pam Schoenberg
Max Irons] as Fredrick "Fritz" Altmann
Charles Dance as Sherman
Elizabeth McGovern as Judge Florence-Marie Cooper
Jonathan Pryce as William Rehnquist, Chief Justice of The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)
Moritz Bleibtreu as Gustav Klimt
Antje Traue as Adele Bloch-Bauer

If it wasn’t for that pesky lawyer kid we would have gotten away with it

Woman in Gold did fit the bill for me, as I was at a loose end while entertaining my elderly country loving mother. She really isn’t one for the action movie, and I certainly wasn’t going to take her to anything remotely racy. My 86 year old father would never forgive me. The reassuring logo of BBC Films as one of the main sponsors of the film helped to reassure me that this was going to be something of a gentle film, as did the 12 rating.

I did think the film was nicely produced with some nice honest scenes; the Austria set parts in particular made the city look beautiful. I have never visited Austria as it is a place I have always (admittedly perversely) boycotted given that its people still seem to flirt with right wing extremism and I don’t like to give my money to such folk (ha, if the advance of UKIP continues I may have to boycott my own country).

Mirren does a very solid job as the elderly Maria; very determined and with some very stereotypical Jewish traits, for example, trying to feed up her friend’s son the lawyer. Mirren has a couple of cute lines and the lawyer soon warms to her and tries to do his best by her, although he has his own money troubles and a growing family to look after.

Unfortunately, Woman in Gold isn’t too demanding an intellectual stretch, and the adversaries from the Austrian museum come across like Saturday morning kids TV film or Dukes of Hazard villains. Their roles are rather hammy and overplayed even down to the snarls at the final court hearing. Good and Evil are very clearly demarked in this film.

While I did love the period scenes for their pure opulent setting, again the anti Jewish scenes seemed a little too tame, and the young Maria and her new husband Fritz’s (Max Irons) escape from Vienna again was rather cartoonish. Most of the family characters, with the exception of the enigmatic Antje Traue (the Woman in Gold) didn’t really get their characters across. Maria’s father read the paper a lot, mother sat there smiling benignly and the rest of it.
Summing Up

Were it not for Mirren, the interesting storyline and the excellent cinematography then I would be giving Woman in Gold a stronger panning. However, as it stands Woman in Gold is an undemanding but quite watchable film. As it did the job for an hour or two with my mother I’ll go with an average three star rating.


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Comments on this review

  • Dentolux published 01/07/2015
    E!!!
  • Mistybrook published 23/06/2015
    E :)
  • jb0077 published 22/06/2015
    E review, thank you.
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Product Information : Woman In Gold (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Actor(s) (Last name, First name): Mirren, Helen

Director(s) (Last name, First name): Curtis, Simon

EAN: 5017239197697

DVD Region: DVD

Video Category: Feature Film

Actor(s): Ryan Reynolds, Charles Dance, Katie Holmes, Elizabeth McGovern, Helen Mirren

Classification: 12 years and over

Production Year: 2015

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Listed on Ciao since: 15/06/2015