Woman in Gold

WRITTEN BY: Alexi Kaye Campbell
DIRECTED BY: Simon Curtis
STARRING: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Bruhl, Tatiana Maslany, Max Irons
RATING: 3.5 stars

Based on a true story, Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) is a Jewish woman from Vienna who is now living in the United States, having been forced to flee her home when the Nazis invaded Austria during World War Two. The elderly woman enlists the help of lawyer Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds) to take on the Austrian government to recover artwork that is on display at the Belvedere, which she believes belongs to her family. The most significant of all the art is Gustav Klimt's famous portrait of her beloved aunt Adele Bloch Bauer, which is deemed the Mona Lisa of Austria.

This is quite an extraordinary story so it is a shame that the film does not quite reach the heights it aims for. It is still enjoyable, but with a running time of about 100 minutes, the film felt much longer and some of the sentimental moments come across as sappy rather than authentically moving. That being said, Woman in Gold has a lot to offer in terms of its rich art and surprising Nazi history. The cinematography also beautifully captures Vienna's gardens and the Belvedere. Mirren is as reliable as ever and has great chemistry with Reynolds. He has some good moments, but at times it felt like he was miscast in the role. Katie Holmes appears briefly as Randy's wife but it is the most thankless role possible. On the other hand, Daniel Bruhl is a welcome addition as the Austrian journalist who tries to help Maria right the wrong. Tatiana Maslany and Max Irons are also fantastic in the flashback scenes as the younger Maria and her opera singing husband Fritz. Maslany in particular has some powerful moments and the film left me wanting more with some of the flashbacks. Antje Traue is also wonderfully cast as Adele. Lovers of art and history are sure to find at least some delight in Woman in Gold.