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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Woman in Gold (2015)

I very much enjoyed this somewhat syrupy but also true story about Maria Altmann's quest to compel Austria to return the 5 Klimt's that the Nazi's stole from her family home.  The woman in gold is a painting commissioned by her uncle of the Aunt Adele, who lived with her parents up until her death at a young age.  Maria and her young husband stayed in Austria almost too long, but narrowly escaped to the United States at the beginning of the war, leaving all their valuables, and her parents, behind.  When Austria begins what was largely a publicity stunt to return stolen art in the late 1990's, Maria seeks the aide of a friend's son, who is a lawyer and also the grandson of the composer Arnold Schoenberg (aptly and understatedly played by Ryan Reynolds).  Schoenberg's law firm is extremely skeptical that he will convince the Austrian government to return a painting that is on refrigerator magnets, but they allow him to try.

Helen Mirren is believable and likable as an elderly woman who has great ambivalence about what she is doing but firm in her belief that justice should be sought, while wanting to avoid the inevitable pain of going back to her homeland.  For Schoenberg it becomes personal somewhere in the middle of the ordeal (his family was from Warsaw, and those who did not flee died at Treblinka), and he carries forward with his case against all odds and prevails.  Nice story nicely told.

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