Helen Mirren is one of those performers rarely failing to deliver. With a catalogue of fine work to her name, her films have been engaging. Putting in another solid turn with Woman in Gold, her thespian skills remained unsullied.
A quasi-companion piece to last year’s movie Monuments Men, which dealt with retrieving artworks stolen by the Nazis, it presents a more personal story. Aided by Mirren’s esteemed presence, the emotional pain her character feels resonates through the screen.
Determined to recover a treasured family portrait taken by the Nazis during World War 2, Maria Altman (Helen Mirren) is resolute. Hiring young lawyer Randol (Ryan Reynolds), she takes her case to the American Supreme Court. Wanting closure and justice to war victims, Maria stops at nothing in her quest. Battling a litany of lies and deception, only her iron will can see her triumph over the ghosts from a terrible war.
Woman in Gold may not be entirely original, but has plenty of genuine heart. Maria’s stoic determination to regain her family’s dignity is successfully conveyed via Mirren’s spirited performance. She doesn’t over-exert her character’s emotions by subtly showing the long-buried pain she has carried. Faced with old demons and a bureaucracy eager to hold onto their treasures, how Maria was able to withstand this personal onslaught is remarkable. Based on true events, director Simon Curtis presents an interesting slice of history.
This isn’t just Mirren’s movie as her costars turn in equally strong performances. Reynolds matches Mirren’s strong role with a character battling his own familial crisis. Torn between past and present, his professional ideals become sorely tested. The criss-crossing of timelines from the 1940s until now are expertly interwoven as is the stark cinematography. Whilst the story drags somewhat with some over-done emotional beats, Woman in Gold delivers a generally solid, true story.
Fans of Helen Mirren will be sure to enjoy Woman in Gold. Her latest film only magnifies her amazing skills with this doyenne of all fields of entertainment gaining another feather to her distinguished bow.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 7