Woman in Gold (12A)

Directed by Simon Curtis
Starring Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Tatiana Maslany, Max Irons, Katie Holmes

Based on the true story of an Austrian woman's legal fight to get back the famous Gustav Klimt painting of her aunt stolen by the Nazis during WW2, this film follows a very similar path to Judi Dench's Philomena of a few years back, with crusty classy Brit acting Dame - Helen Mirren here, teaming up with young whippersnapper lawyer Ryan Reynolds. The mismatched pair travel to Vienna to try to retrieve Maria's aunt's painting, although as one of the most famous paintings in the world, the Austrian authorities are very reluctant to give it up.
The legal tale is enjoyable and Mirren and Reynolds are fun together. However, I particularly liked the flashbacks to the Nazi occupation of Austria with Orphan Black's fabulous Tatiana Maslany as young Maria and I might be biased, but I thought she was fantastic! Acting almost exclusively in German, she captures the spirit of a young Helen Mirren as her family are plunged into the worst possible circumstances, saying so much with her facial expressions. The Austrian settings are atmospheric and director Simon Curtis builds the tension well as she and her husband Max Irons escape from Nazi house arrest and flee the country.
The film is very emotionally manipulative, but it really worked for me. Mirren is always watchable, although slightly Queen-ish at times! The rather cartoonish Austrian baddies are unsubtle but this is a film with a clear point of view. Our sympathies are very much with Mirren not those Austrian collaborators!
Not perfect, but with great performances from Maslany and Mirren, this was a touching and fascinating story. 8/10

April 2015

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