Legal saga still astounds
WOMAN IN GOLD
Stars: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Katie Holmes
Director: Simon Curtis
Reviewer: Kathy Sundstrom
Verdict: 4 stars
THE storyline in Woman in Gold is so fanciful, with such a fabulous outcome, one might be inclined to dismiss it as "Hollywood fiction".
I mean, really, an 80-something-year-old Jewish woman living in America and then hiring a largely unskilled lawyer to sue the Austrian Government to reclaim a painting stolen from her family in the Second World War?
And that painting transpires to be one of Austria's most famous paintings, worth more than $130 million?
It's a great idea for a feel-good movie, but what makes this movie moving, memorable and well worthwhile is that it is true.
And from my research on the Woman in Gold, director Simon Curtis hasn't taken the liberty of embellishing the facts.
He may have even been understating them.
Maria Altmann (brilliantly played by Helen Mirren) did hire a young lawyer, Randy Schoenberg, with a dignified past including an Austrian composer granddad (Arnold Schoenberg) to try and reclaim a painting of her aunt by the famous artist Gustav Klimt.
They really did have to have a huge legal battle against the Austrian Government to get "its most famous painting back".
The battle must have seemed insurmountable.
And, of course, this is real life, so even without watching the movie you can Google the outcome.
But it's more than a story of the legal fight. It's Altmann's and Schoenberg's visit to Austria and her recollection of the terror of the war movingly portrayed.
I know many other critics have given this film bad reviews. I've even heard some say it was predictable, which is an odd thing to say for a true story. But I thought it was fabulous. I was entertained and educated as I'd never heard of the Woman in Gold before.
I also saw another aspect of the horror of that terrible period in history I hadn't previously considered and now will never forget.