Wednesday, May 20


The Film Fatales develop a whole new level of art appreciation. 

Woman in Gold. 2015. PG-13. Starring Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds and Daniel Bruhl. Directed by Simon Curtis.  

Maria Altmann, an octogenarian Jewish refugee, takes on the Austrian government to recover artwork she believes rightfully belongs to her family. [IMDb]

Nicole: History shows what a horrific blight on humanity the holocaust was, and still remains. Genocide, unfortunately, still prevails in many parts of this ever-turning globe, doomed -- it would seem -- to repeat the mistakes of the past without learning from them. Maria Altmann's story is just one of the many that exist to prove how many injustices the Nazis committed during WWII. Injustices that, although a little too late, develop into modern restitution. Maria Altmann's well-to-do Viennese family included her a painting of her Aunt Adele Bloch Bauer -- the subject of Gustav Klimt's inarguably most famous portrait "Woman in Gold." That portrait, like all of Altmann's familial possessions, was looted by the Nazi's during their occupation of Vienna. It came to Vienna's Belvedere Gallery through a legal technicality -- and remained in their possession until Maria Altmann pursued its rescue.

eiizabeth: I do love movies about individuals who take it upon themselves to right an injustice. They inspire me to want to do the same if and when a similar saturation comes up in my life. So many unsung heroes who rallied against the Nazis whether it was the brave families who hid Jewish families or Maria Altmann who decided that a family portrait stolen by the zombies who followed Hitler needed to be back with her family. When you think about what the Nazis did to millions of people, do you really think they had an eye for beauty? I think not.  

Instead of  being glued to their iphones or tablets and wondering what the Kardashians will do next, young people should be asked to  sit down to try to envision the horrors that came knocking on the doors of some many families in Europe during WWII. Woman in Gold does just that. You can’t leave the theatre without the realization that we still hate without reason in this world. 

Nicole: I wonder if there's anything Helen Mirren can't do, honestly? I entirely believed her portrayal of Maria Altmann -- from the perfect Austrian accent, to the stoic body language, to the no-brass-tax attitude. At times, I forgot it was Mirren on screen and I could swear she was one of my Germanic relatives. She certainly did her homework to nail this role. Ryan Reynolds, as Altmann's relative and lawyer Randol Schoenburg, also does a fine job. I wonder if people get how well-rounded Reynolds is as an actor. Since his resumption of action star status, Reynolds has been taking popular roles in lieu of meatier parts. He's not a one trick pony -- so it was a nice change of pace to see him in this film. 

elizabeth: I concur. Mirren’s steely determination and Reynolds’ evolution from  money seeking lawyer  to seeking justice for one older woman who longed to have back what was rightly her family’s, is inspiring. If Monument Men did not get you stirred up about man’s humanity against man, then I suggest Woman in Gold just might make you angry. Angry enough to care about not repeating our mistakes.

Nicole: This is an important movie that reveals in great detail the other forms of atrocity the holocaust wreaked on is victims. Year after year, pillaged works of art resurface. Each one has their own story. Unfortunately, not every story has the fortunate resolution of Woman in Gold. But, with each masterpiece that is returned to its rightful owners, the world gains back a little of its stolen humanity.   

The Film Fatales give WOMAN IN GOLD

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