Review: Woman in Gold

There is no doubting the impact of the story behind Woman in Gold. At the turn of the century, Maria Altmann, a Jewish Austrian who had fled her home on the eve of World War II, pursued legal action both in Austria and in her new home the United States, seeking the return of the artwork that had been stolen from her family home by the Nazis. Specifially a series of landscapes and portraits by the Austrian master Gustav Klimt.

This film, which juxtaposes Altmann’s flight from Austria as the jackboot of the Nazi party descends against her seemingly helpless appeal for justice from an Austrian government desperate not to lose a national treasure, should be brilliant. This film, which stars Helen Mirren as the older Altmann, with the legendary actress capturing the strengths, passions and fears of this extraordinary woman, should be excellent. This film, which surprisingly casts Ryan Reynolds opposite her as her big-hearted small-time lawyer, should be refreshing.

Sadly, it is none of these things. This is rather a plodding, lacklustre telemovie on a grand scale. As if proving the genius of artists like Klimt by contrast, this movie combines its amazing, golden elements into something far less than the sum of its parts.

Almost without exception every camera angle is jarringly bland. The uninspired modern visual style contrasted by the washed out greys of the war era scenes. The support cast featuring the likes of Katie Holmes, Charles Dance and Daniel Bruhl are reduced to one dimensional plot devices mouthing their words but not really a part of this film.

Ultimately the film is all the more disappointing for the way it relentlessly hits the audience over the head with what it could be. Learn the story of Maria Altmann, but choose another mode of education.

‘Woman in Gold’ Movie Times