Set six decades after World War II, “Woman in Gold” is based on the true story of Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren), an elderly Jewish woman, who returns to Vienna to reclaim a world famous painting of her aunt that was plundered by the Nazis during the war.
With the help of the ambitious, young attorney Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), she not only hopes to regain what is rightfully hers, but to also obtain some measure of justice for the death, destruction, and massive art theft perpetrated by the Nazis.
Woman in Gold bares a lot of similarities to “Philomena”, not just in terms of the plot (a mature woman seeking righteousness for her past), but in the way director Simon Curtis progresses the story.
The film jumps back and forth between current day and the 1930s – when a young Maria (portrayed by Tatiana Maslany) and her family are under the shadow of the Nazis.
Shot through desaturated colours, the flashbacks are an excellent depiction of what life was like under the cultural splendour of war-time Germany and provide some of the film’s most exhilarating moments, especially towards the film’s peak.
In terms of casting, Helen Mirren brings a sense of long-suffering dignity to the role of Maria. Mirren delivers a graceful performance, blending in elements of grit, wit and naturalism.
In spite of this, it’s Ryan Reynolds who shines brightest in the spotlight. Although his character only takes on the job for the hefty pay cheque, his character encompasses likeable traits such as warmth and heart, which makes for pleasant viewing for the duration of the 109 minute running time.
However, for all of Woman in Gold’s strong points, the main drawback is the over-manipulation of emotions. Each of the suspense-filled courtroom proceedings (of which there are a fair few) has a forced uplifting feel to it, which fails to trigger the reaction the scriptwriters were hoping for.