I’m not an emotional film-goer and also don’t get to personal a lot with my reviews. I rarely, if ever, cry during a film. It’s just how I am. I’m not a ‘cold’ person and things move me, but I think it’s because sometimes I feel like I’ve seen it before or it simply has to move me in a way that others before it have not. The Imitation Game moved me because I felt as though it directly affected me personally being as I am originally from the Netherlands and in all likelihood, had Alan Turing & his team not come around, my parents, and even I, might not have existed. This film was like that for me as it moved me in that same type of way and yes, I cried. Does it make me give it a higher grade based on all this.. yeah I think it does, but then I can do that! 🙂
The story was so profound to me and memories of stories my family has told me of the horrors of the war, well it’s just something that whenever there is a film like this, it makes it all to realistic for me and I’m sure many others also.
It begins with “Maria Altmann” (Helen Mirren), an elderly Jewish refugee, who sees a notice that the Austrian government has finally decided to return famous works of art that the Nazi’s had stolen back at the beginning of World War II. She finds a young lawyer, “Randol Schoenberg” (Ryan Reynolds), his grandfather being the composer Arnold Schoenberg, who escaped to the United States after the Nazis declared his music be degenerate based on the fact he was Jewish, takes on the government to recover specifically, a painting of her Aunt Adele Bloch-Bauer aka the Woman in Gold, and other artwork by Gustav Klimt, she believes rightfully belongs to her family. With the help of an Austrian reporter played by Daniel Bruhl, they set out to do exactly that. By the time the film starts it’s story in 1998, the painting had literally had become one of their biggest tourist attractions. You went to Vienna, you had your coffee, you went to the opera and you went to see the Klimt ‘Woman In Gold’ painting. So as a lawyer says in the film, “You think a painting that ends up as a refrigerator magnet will ever leave Austria?”
As the story unfolds we see the wonderful Tatiana Maslany as the young “Maria” and Max Irons does a decent turn as her young opera singer husband “Fritz” and we watch as they make their escape from Austria.
Woman in Gold can be a bit wooden, and the acting by Mirren carries the picture, but Ryan Reynolds is truly not bad, though Katie Holmes as his wife “Pam” really offers nothing in a very small role. All in all the film shows great respect for its story and the Old World which Altmann and her attorney must revisit to make this case happen, and though she had vowed she to never return, she does, as well as the modern life she made for herself in Los Angeles with a small clothing shop she owned and worked at until her passing at age 94 in 2011. The scenes of a Vienna long past showed in flashbacks, are some of the best in the film. Altmann goes to the house where she grew up, which is now a commercial space, and we see as she imagines her family as they were on her wedding night, and even dances beside the guests and her younger self ~ yes, more teary moments for me.
I didn’t do any research into this film before seeing it and I highly recommend you don’t either. The story that unfolds will not leave you as you leave the theatre and that’s because shit like this is still going on. Austria and the Vatican..yes, the Vatican, still hold the largest cache of stolen Nazi art that they deny they have and will never give back, but also never share it with the world because that would be admitting what they did. And we know that’s never going to happen. And we should be so much more angry about than we are. As my family always said, they try to tell you it’s in the past and to get over it, but you can’t and you can never ever forget either. I haven’t and I never will. This movie reminded me to never do so. I hope it does you also.
(See grading scale)