click to enlarge Randy (Ryan Reynolds) comforts Maria (Helen Mirren) in after a court hearing "Woman in Gold." - ROBERT VIGLASKY
Robert Viglasky
Randy (Ryan Reynolds) comforts Maria (Helen Mirren) in after a court hearing "Woman in Gold."
Rating: Three popcorn kernels (out of five)
By Kaylee Brewster  |  Movie Review

Woman in Gold,” shows a different side to the Holocaust, by telling a story that speaks to the past, the present — and hopefully the future.

Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) had her paintings stolen almost 70 years ago by the Nazis. She enlists the help of Randy (Ryan Reynolds) to help get her paintings back, especially the one of her aunt, now called “The Woman in Gold.” However, in order to do that they must file a lawsuit against the Austrian government.

Mirren is a dame fine actress and that is abundantly clear in her portrayal of Maria. Although Maria desperately wants to get her beloved artwork back it means facing a past that is filled with pain. She has to return to the places that remind her of all she has lost. The conflict between what she wants and wants to avoid is expertly done by Mirren.


Looking back to the past and seeing how it affects the future is what “Woman in Gold” is really about: a country struggling to come to terms with its history, a woman facing her fears and a man trying to reconcile the two.

That past is also shown through flashbacks of Maria’s younger life in Vienna. Her younger self is played by Tatiana Maslany, who speaks mostly in German. The film really shines by transporting the audience not only back in time, but to a different country and different language. It makes it feel as though you have stepped into someone’s life through the acting, costumes and sets.

That realism also translates to an emotional response from the audience. You feel the exact same tension and sadness that the characters are going through.

The only problem is that these flashbacks aren’t shown enough. They are the most engaging part of the story, and you walk away wanting more of them.

Because, let’s face it, lawsuits are long and boring. Fortunately, the film cuts out most of it and focuses on the big moments, but you really want to go back to 1930s Vienna.

On the one hand there is Mirren and Reynolds doing some fantastic acting while telling a relatively dull story, and on the other hand you have an exciting story and phenomenal acting that is cut short.

Still, “Woman in Gold” remains a movie to see, although I’d suggest waiting until its DVD release. This story is one that needs to be told and people need to hear it. It’s a reminder that some things should never, ever be forgotten.

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