Helen Mirren stars as Maria Altmann in this film based on a true story. Altmann is a woman who escaped Austria in her youth due to the takeover by the Nazi-led German forces. However, left behind was a family heirloom in the form of a painting done of her aunt.
The film picks up decades later in the 1990s during a time where Austria opened up an opportunity for people to get back items that were unjustly taken. Altmann decides to hire a lawyer named Randol (Reynolds) to help her get back the art that was taken from her family, however, the task seems to become difficult as the attempt turns into a lengthy legal battle.
Upon further research, I found out that the actual Altmann case to get the art back took quite a number of years. The problem is that it isn’t very noticeable in the movie, the film’s pacing makes it seem like things happen much quicker than it actually did in real life. The passage of time and its effect on the characters is there somewhat, but not to the degree to make things more compelling.
Another problem I felt was unnecessarily added to the picture was the overuse of flashbacks. There were some that fit well, however, at times it seemed a bit excessive, using up screen time that could have been utilized to tell the story happening in the “present.”
The acting talent in the movie was probably the strongest part, having two solid leads with Mirren and Reynolds. Unfortunately, they were a bit restricted by how the characters they played were written. While Mirren is still her charming self and Reynolds shows off more of his dramatic acting chops, the film around them doesn’t give them much to work with.
It’s really a shame because this saga as a whole is quite an interesting tale, yet it feels just plain dull here. Perhaps if this had been a miniseries with more time to show the struggle as a whole, it could have worked much better. As it is right now, “Woman in Gold” feels like nothing more than a made for TV movie that got released in theaters.
It isn’t a particularly bad film by any means, it’s just a dull picture which can’t be saved by its casting. 2 out of 5.