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Maria Altman sought to regain a world famous painting of her aunt plundered by the Nazis during World War II. She did so not just to regain what was rightfully hers, but also to obtain some measure of justice for the death, destruction, and massive art theft perpetrated by the Nazis.Written by
Elyse J. Factor
While Randol and Maria drive down Sunset Boulevard, a billboard for the 2014 film "Guardians of the Galaxy" appears visibly in the distance down the street while the time period of the scene is supposed to take place in 1999. See more »
Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds star in "Woman in Gold" from 2015, a true story about the quest of Maria Altmann to recover art stolen from her family by the Nazis in Vienna, the seat of anti-Semitism in Europe.
I just want to point out, to answer some of the reviews, that this is not a documentary, it's a movie. Movies combine events, change them around, omit them. No one wants to watch a tedious film that recognizes that it took a huge amount of time to get to the Supreme Court. If you want the actual, factual story of Maria Altmann's journey, you will need to read about it or see one of several documentaries. Films are meant to pique our interest.
Altmann speaks with a young attorney, Randy Shoenberg, about recovering The Woman in Gold, a painting by Klimt that is considered a symbol of Vienna. Klimt in fact painted a series of stunning portraits of Altmann's aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer, who died of meningitis at the age of 44.
In her will, she asked her husband Ferdinand, who had seen the writing on the wall in Vienna and fled to Prague, to donate the paintings to the Austrian State Gallery.
Although he has just started a new job, Shoenberg travels to Vienna to see the will. Along the way there are flashbacks of Vienna in the '30s, where the Bloch-Bauer family lived in opulence. When the Nazis came to their home, they stripped the place of everything valuable - and there was a lot -- and put the family under house arrest.
Maria and her husband, an opera singer, manage to escape in a harrowing scene. In flashbacks, Maria is played by the remarkable Tatiana Maslany, the star of "Orphan Black," who looks incredibly like a brunette Mirren.
This is a touching, beautifully told story of one man's sacrifice and determination and a woman facing up to her past in order to seek justice.
Helen Mirren is one of my favorite actresses - here, she is a vibrant, energetic octogenarian who finds the struggle for the painting uncomfortable - several times, meeting a roadblock, she is ready to wash her hands of it, but Schoenberg won't let her. It represents her family to her, and some uncomfortable memories. You can see all of that in Mirren's multilayered performance.
Reynolds is excellent as a young man who believes in taking a chance - - he started and failed in his own law practice - and in this case, going for the gold, despite the fact that he has a wife (Katie Holmes), a baby, and one on the way, and an intolerant boss. It doesn't faze him and when Maria wants to quit, he is furious.
I disagree that there was no connection between them. In fact, there is a deep one. The quest for the painting comes to represent to him what it means to Maria
I highly recommend this film. There are tons of movies about the horrors perpetrated on Jews by the Nazis. The recovery of stolen art is one part of that horror. "You see a painting," she tells a group. "I see my aunt."
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