Review of "Woman In Gold (DVD)"

published 26/04/2016 | catsholiday
Member since : 03/03/2003
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About me :
We were travelling but now back so normal service resumed.Thank you anyone who is kind enough to read then rate my reviews, especially those Es.
Pro Brilliant acting, great locations and a good story
Cons Some may find it rather sentimentally too much
very helpful
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"Woman in Gold - a real story well portrayed"

~~~~~~ WOMAN IN GOLD ~~~~~~

On our flights to and from Japan I managed to watch around half a dozen films and this was one I selected to fill in that endless twelve hours stuck in an uncomfortable chair encased in an aluminium tube in the sky!

~~~~~~ FILM FACTS ~~~~~~

GENRE: Biography, Drama, History


LENGTH: 1Hr 49 min


DIRECTOR: Simon Curtis

WRITERS: Alexi Kaye Campbell, E. Randol Schoenberg and Maria Altmann (life story)

STARRING: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Brühl

TAGLINE : Justice is priceless

~~~~~~ STORY ~~~~~~

This film is based on a true story. An elderly Jewish lady employs a young lawyer son of one of her friends to take on the Austrian government to try to get back a painting by Gustav Klimt that she says was stolen by the Nazis from her family. The portrait is of her aunt and now is hanging in a gallery in Austria as one of their prize paintings.

~~~~~~ MY VIEWS ~~~~~~

I didn’t know anything about this film before choosing to watch it on the plane . I chose it because Helen Mirren was in it and I thought the synopsis sounded interesting.

I knew that the Nazis had stolen millions of pounds worth of arts and treasures from wealthy Jewish families before sending them off to the Death camps but I hadn’t realised that some had managed to get their possessions returned .

Helen Mirren as Maria Altman was just brilliant, she plays the rather short in patience and aggressive Jewish matriarch to a T. She says what she thinks and expects that everyone will jump to her attention as soon as she sees fit.

Ryan Reynolds plays Randy Schoenberg a lawyer who has recently given up on his failing one man practice and joined a large city law firm. Initially Maria feels he should do her investigation as a side interest while working at the new firm but Randy does persuade the firm to allow him to do the initial research.

Over the time he matures from the rather naïve person to one who is pulled in by the Jewish story and what happened to Maria’s and his family and he gives up his job to take on Maria’s fight for the painting.

During the film we are taken to Vienna in Austria and to Maria’s home. We see her life in flashbacks and learn about her family and the events leading up to the war and losing so many members of her family. We learn how she escaped from Austria and what happened to her home after the family were sent away.

I thought the story was well told and the flash backs allowed the story to build up slowly building the tension felt by Jewish families in Austria at the time. It showed how quickly things changed so that very few actually managed to get out before it was too late. It would have been hard to make the decision to leave everything if you were uncertain that things were going to change. How could anyone know quite how horrendously they were going to change as it was beyond imagination at the time.

I often find the best stories are the real ones and this is no different. Yes it is another Jewish holocaust story but it is also a legal case and a family history. It is also a piece of social history and made me realise just how wealthy and well connected some of the Austrian Jewish families were and that must have made what they went through even worse as they were not used to having it tough and it would be hard to get much tougher than what happened to them under the Nazis.

The costumes were fabulous and the clothes of the families pre war so elegant. Then the modern day contrast with Maria Altman being quite a classy dresser owning a rather posh little clothes shop in the States.

The fil used a number of real locations in Vienna ,Austria including City Hall , Palais Auersperg - Auerspergstraße 8,Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Belvedere Semperdepot, Hotel Sacher, Concert Hall, Vienna State Opera, Felderstraße, St. Ulrichsplatz, Judenplatz and Rooseveltplatz.

Scenes were also filmed in Shoreham Airport, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, and Blythe House, 23 Blythe Road, West Kensington, London.
Then in the States in Encino and San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, Culver City and Beverley Hills in California.

I like to know where films are shot and we often visit places where we know scenes in our favourite films are shot.

The music didn’t stand out for me as I didn’t recognise any but it fitted in well with the story and added to the atmosphere on the screen at the time. Maria married an opera singer and at the wedding he sang ‘Deh vieni alla finestra’ by Mozart and we enjoyed typical Jewish dance music at the wedding too.

Apparently the portrait of the ‘Woman in Gold’ was Maria’ aunt Adele and she owned a rather ostentatious necklace which she gave to Maria and it is said that this necklace was taken by the Nazis and was worn by none other than the Nazi, Hermann Goering's wife. Talk about blatant thievery!

This story is not that old becuase the court case was only in 2004 and sadly Maria Altmann died in 2011 at the age of 94 so didn’t get to enjoy her painting for long. Maria sold the painting in 2006 US$135 million to Ronald Lauder for the Neue Galerie in New York City where it can be seen today. I wonder what happened to Maria’s 135 million dollars!!??

I found the film fascinating. The story was well told and kept me hooked throughout and the acting made it seem all the more real. We had glamour, sadness, tension and anger all in varying degrees at different times through the film.

~~~~~~ AWARDS ~~~~~~

Helen Mirren was nominated for Best Actress Awards by Screen Actors Guild Awards, AARP Movies for Grownups Awards, and the Jupiter Award. Simon Curtis was nominated for “Most Valuable Movie of the Year” by Cinema for Peace Awards and these were all nominated in 2016.


The film scores a pretty mediocre 51 on the metacritc scale and received some scathing comments about schmaltziness and sentimentality.

Chicago Sun-Times, Richard Roeper
“Simon Curtis' Woman in Gold is a shamelessly sentimental fictionalization of this true story, but it's a fascinating story nonetheless, beautifully photographed and greatly elevated by a brilliant performance from the invaluable Helen Mirren.”

The Telegraph, Tim Robey
“The film seems to think the mere presence of Mirren as a wisecracking widow will be enough for us to forgive it a multitude of sins.”

Variety, Peter Debruge
“This is manufactured sentiment, less interested in provoking thought than in manipulating emotion, constructed of human obstacles overcome, stirring speeches delivered and heart-rending flashbacks unveiled, all suspended like so much Spam in the jelly of its own score.”

BBC , Owen Gleiberman

“The film tackles the theme that George Clooney’s The Monuments Men attempted, but failed, to achieve – namely, what the Nazi pilfering of art was truly about, beyond horrendous thievery. The Klimt painting in question is the perfect vehicle for that meditation, because it’s a work that glows with a magical soulfulness. It’s a piece of art that’s very much alive. To steal it is to do more than steal an object – it’s to steal an identity, to commit another version of what the Nazis did in their murderous crimes. And for a nation to protect that theft is, in a real sense, for it to keep denying the evil that went on. All of that, says Woman in Gold, is why Mirren’s Maria fights to regain her aunt’s portrait.”

So you can see the reaction to the film is as varied as the number of reviews you can read. I thought it was really well done and told this story sensitively and brought the emotion the Nazis thefts to the forefront.

~~~~~~ RECOMMENDED? ~~~~~~

I would recommend it and my husband also enjoyed it. If you want sci fi or all action then this is not for you but if you enjoy a drama, and a story that is both interesting and well told them this may also appeal to you.

Thanks for reading.
26th April 2016

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Comments on this review

  • danielclark691 published 30/04/2016
    well reviewed
  • euphie published 27/04/2016
    e :o)
  • LiveMusicLoverLyn published 27/04/2016
    One to consider
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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

DVD Region: DVD

EAN: 5017239197697

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

Video Category: Feature Film

Classification: 12 years and over

Production Year: 2015


Listed on Ciao since: 15/06/2015