How often do we see stories about the richest country in the world? And to be honest, Austria is the rarest. I knew about Sigmund Freud for his work on psychoanalysis and something about Nazi occupation in Austria. But the story about the Mona Lisa of Austria was unknown to me until I watched Woman in Gold. Alexi Kaye Campbell and Simon Curtis decided to portray the life story of Maria Altmann and Randy Schoenberg in this beautiful drama. Although, Hans Zimmer did make me stick to the screen for quite some time but the blend was natural and obvious.
The story began when Maria Altmann, played by Helen Mirren, noticed one of the letters from her sister about the painting of their aunt Adele. They had the painting in their house in Austria when she was young and Maria was close to her aunt. She just couldn’t forget about the tough times she went through in the Nazi occupied Austria. She was ripped off from her belongings and forced to flee to America to start fresh during which she also had to abandon her parents which was although a mutual decision. She decided to pursue what was hers and so hired a fairly young lawyer, Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), to embark on that painful journey again. They were helped by a local investigative journalist named Hubertus Czernin played by Daniel Brühl to pursue the case. The painting was shipped to an art gallery who refused to listen to their plea as it was considered a national treasure worth 100 million and was named, Woman in Gold. It was the pride of Austria.
Maria wanted to forget the things and let go of her past at a point but Randy was adamant to bring back what was hers. He found a loophole in the law which made him to file a plea in the American court and sue the government of Austria. But it took them a decade to finally get the decision in their favor by a tribunal at Vienna.
Some political thrillers are bound to incite a level of satisfaction to the viewer and it is one of those few movies which has the potential. No doubt, the acting by Helen Mirren is a masterpiece in itself. She played the typical Jewish who has the subtle level of sarcasm for the right moments. But the beautiful lady, Adele (played by Antje Traue), was almost quiet in the entire movie which may be due to her role. She is almost unnoticeable in the credits as well because the movie is about Maria and Randy.
The background score is perfect and blends with the Austrian history and emotions. Hans Zimmer and Martin Phipps composition did not disappoint. The scenes were shot beautifully in the lanes of rich Austria. The direction and storytelling are invincible. Maria revisits her past in the flashes of memory which was quite engaging. Daniel Brühl was noticeable but not quite as in The Fifth State. Ryan Reynolds appeared easy on the eye and fit for the role of young lawyer and Katie Holmes as his supportive wife.