Directed by Simon Curtis, Woman in Gold is the remarkable true story of an elderly Jewish woman, Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren), who spent nearly 10 years in a legal battle with the Austrian government.
Maria tried to reclaim family treasures that were stolen by the Nazis from her family home in Austria 60 years earlier, just prior to World War 2.
Told with warmth, compassion and wit, the film alternates between scenes of contemporary Los Angeles and flashbacks of earlier days in Austria. Here, the young and appealing Maria Altmann (the second) (Tatiana Maslany ) enjoys a cultured and close relationship with her family.
The beautiful costumes, music and refined interiors however belie her future and are interspersed with her tragic memories of the arrival of the Nazis, house arrest in Vienna and her escape.
In Los Angeles, after the death of her sister, Maria discovers family letters written over forty years earlier that unveil the potential for succession rights and seeks the aid of a friend’s son and lawyer, the young Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds).
Randol has the support of his wife Pam (Katie Holmes) as he takes on the case of recovering family belongings, including paintings held in the Austrian State Gallery, The Belvedere Palace in Vienna.
The most treasured item was the renowned gold leaf masterpiece by Gustav Klimt ‘Woman in Gold’, a portrait of Marias dearest Aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer.
Travelling to Vienna together to claim restitution, Maria and Randol are assisted by Austrian Journalist Hubertus Czernin (Daniel Bruh). It is in Vienna that Randol (who shares Maria’s Austrian heritage) discovers that this journey represents more than just the recovery of a family fortune.
Woman in Gold is a sensitive portrayal of one woman’s quest for justice. By uncovering her life events and memories it reveals intricate layers of identity, cultural tragedy and healing for both individuals and a country.
At Maria Altman’s request, Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1 (1907), is on permanent display at The Neue Galerie, New York.
Best watched with: High Tea in gold class.
Words by Elizabeth Lamont
Details: Woman in Gold | Drama | Stars Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds & Daniel Brühl | Directed by Simon Curtis | Released 21 My 2015 at Event Cinemas