WOMAN IN GOLD is one of those movies that’s easy to love—it’s an astounding true story about an elderly woman who takes on a behemoth, her past as a victim of the Nazis in WW II and the current Austrian bureaucracy keeping her from retrieving her stolen past—in the form of one of the world’s most famous and romantic paintings.

The cast is impeccable—Helen Mirren is Maria Altmann, the octogenarian Jewish refugee who hires a young attorney played by Ryan Reynolds to retrieve art work stolen by the Nazis from her family’s home in Vienna.

The painting in question is none other than that of her beloved and beautiful Aunt Adele Bloch-Bauer who was immortalized by Gustav Klimt in 1907 on a canvas encrusted with gold and jeweled tones. The masterpiece was looted by the Nazis during the war, and eventually ended up hanging on the walls of the Austrian Gallery in the Belvedere Palace where it became known informally as the Mona Lisa of Austria.

In the film, Mrs. Altmann and her attorney travel back to the Altmann family home and indeed back in time in order to attempt the impossible: to take the Austrian Government to court and force them to give back the painting, restoring not only a family portrait but also setting right an historical wrong.

It’s a tall order and the tale is told with great care. The film cuts back and forth in time so we get a real sense of the elegant, educated, and beautiful life the Altmann’s lived in Austria, the nobility and refinement of this family and their circle in contrast to the ugliness of the fate that befell them as anti-Semitism descended on Austria and destroyed their family and friends.

There’ s also a very touching parallel story—that of the young attorney Randol Schoenberg whom Reynolds plays. It seems he’s the grandson of Arnold Schoenberg the famous Jewish Viennese composer about whom he knows little, but whom he gradually comes to understand along with his own Jewish history, and he’s awakened and overwhelmed by it. It’s a subtle, endearing portrayal by Reynolds, who plays it like a bit of a nebbish slowly brought round by the single-mindedness and charm of Mirren’s imperious Maria Altmann. They’re a perfect pair in cahoots to outwit a foreign government on its own territory, in a fight that goes all the way to the United States Supreme Court! There’s a delightful sense of adventure and justice at work, and the imperative of a story that must be told.

The cast is solidly filled out by Katie Holmes as Randol’s wife, the great Charles Dance as the head of a law firm, Elizabeth McGovern as a court judge, and Jonathan Pryce as Chief Justice William Rehnquist. A film that can be seen again and again—enjoy it on Blu-ray!


Woman In Gold is available on Blu-ray™, DVD & Digital HD 

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