Some critics were not kind but that did not bother me, or even give me pause from wanting to see this film. Only other things in my life delayed my seeing The Woman in Gold. That said, it was good, no it was much better than good. It was well worth the wait.
Helen Mirren, as Maria Aultman, the Austrian Jewish lady forced to leave her home in Austria to escape the Nazis does not disappoint. And Ryan Reynolds as Randy, the young attorney she hires to help her get her family's art back from the Austrian government holds up his part. Katie Holmes plays Randy's wife as a supportive spouse.
This is based on a true story which makes the film even more fascinating. Like many Jewish families, Maria's was a well to do cultured family with many famous expensive works of art. The Nazis came through and just took the art. Eventually the Austrian government set up "Restitution Committees" that would take into consideration claims from families about art that was stolen. The issue Maria ran into was that one piece of art she was claiming happened to be a portrait the Austrian people had come to love and treasure as the French do the Mona Lisa.
The film is the story of an octogenarian who in trying to get her family's art back and finds herself facing the past she has fought so hard to forget. The more road blocks the Austrian government puts up in her way, the more determined she is. Randy, who at first, is not interested finds the story
fascinating and soon is consumed by the task. Much to his wife's dismay he focuses on this one case, sacrificing everything, even when Maria is ready to walk away.
The story goes back in the past and once again we are shown the autocracies of the Nazis and more of what happened to the Jewish people. Even 65 years later families are having to fight for what was once theirs and was literally taken from their walls.
Unlike The Monument Men that got trashed for not going far enough in seriously addressing the issue, this movie takes it on full frontal and shows the anguish of one family. We see how they lived and then one day when it all changed. By seeing one family's effects, their demise, and what happened it is easier to understand the pain of loss. It is much more personal. Suddenly it more than a painting that is lost. It is a life, a family, innocence, and peace. And even when the art is returned the rest is lost forever.
No matter how many times the story is told, in how many iterations, we need to hear it over and over, less it ever happen again.
See the movie. Mirren is as enjoyable as always.