Woman in Gold
This film is based on the true story of the late Maria Altmann, an elderly Jewish refugee living in Los Angeles who, together with her young lawyer E. Randol Schoenberg, fought the government of Austria for almost a decade to reclaim Gustav Klimt’s iconic painting of her aunt. Titled “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” the painting was confiscated from her relatives by the Nazis in Vienna just prior to World War II. Altmann took her legal battle all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled in her favor in Republic of Austria v. Altmann (2004).
“Woman in Gold” is a timeless movie that weaves the present with events that took place in Vienna during World War ll and the Holocaust. Helen Mirren gives a powerful performance as Maria Altmann; the picture is based on the true story of this strong-willed woman who fought for the return of family portraits seized by the Nazis, especially the one of her aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer l. Maria is supported by a young lawyer named Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds) who admits he initially took the case because of the value of the paintings. However, once involved, he becomes wrapped up in the cause and is determined to see it through so justice is served. Of course fighting the government of Austria will not be easy, and Maria and Randy take their case all the way to the Supreme Court.
The movie contains touching moments, including when Maria walks into her former home, now offices, and remembers her wedding celebration there, along with her father saying good-bye to her. With tears she remembers preparing to leave with her husband as Jewish refugees and her father said, “Remember us.”
The scenes of Vienna are spectacular, as is the re-creation of the past and the Nazis parading down the street. Also featured are strong performances. In addition to Helen Mirren as Maria, Ryan Reynolds does a commendable job as Schoenberg, who had roots going back to World War ll as well. This story about the recently deceased Maria Altmann is dramatic and compelling. Unfortunately, a few strong words prevent us from awarding the film our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal.