The art of the mat­ter

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES - Leigh Paatsch

Direc­tor: Simon Curtis ( My Week with Mar­i­lyn)

Star­ring: He­len Mir­ren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Bruhl, Charles Dance, Katie Holmes

Ver­dict: Mir­ren found gilt- edged of all charges

LAST month in the mu­sic- themed drama Boychoir, the great ac­tor Dustin Hoffman re­fused to let the movie sink un­der the weight of its play- it- safe in­cli­na­tions.

A sim­i­lar out­come is achieved on be­half of the new art- themed drama

Woman in Gold by the one and only He­len Mir­ren.

Never one to show up, cash the cheque and shut up shop, Mir­ren is nev­er­the­less at her im­pe­ri­ous, don’t mess- with- me best here at all times.

Based on true events across the past two decades, Woman in Gold tells the story of Maria Alt­mann ( Mir­ren), one of the last sur­viv­ing mem­bers of an Aus­trian fam­ily who lost their for­tune to the Nazis in the 1930s.

Among the pos­ses­sions lost was artist Gus­tav Klimt’s cel­e­brated can­vas Por­trait of Adele Bloch- Bauer, widely re­ferred to “the Mona Lisa of Aus­tria.”

Now in her twi­light years, Maria has one last chance to re­claim what right­fully be­longed to her clan. How­ever, she does not have the con­nec­tions nor means to mount an all- stops- out legal as­sault against Aus­trian mu­seum au­thor­i­ties.

In fact, all Maria can do is pin her few hopes on Randy Schoen­berg ( Ryan Reynolds), a rookie lawyer with lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence in the com­plex field of con­tested wartime es­tates.

When­ever Mir­ren is front and cen­tre on screen, ev­ery­thing about Woman in Gold lifts ap­pre­cia­bly.

Maria’s mission is not so much a mat­ter of ur­gency as it is about hon­our and clo­sure. Mir­ren con­veys what is at stake for the ( of­ten enig­mat­i­cally) re­served woman who is Maria with un­fail­ing grace and clar­ity.

While Reynolds would be an un­likely run­ning mate for Mir­ren in any movie ( bar­ring per­haps an­other Red se­quel), he too thrives on her pres­ence, find­ing a lit­tle some­thing in what could have been a ma­jor noth­ing of a role.

An­other sup­port per­for­mance of note is that of ever- de­pend­able Ger­man ac­tor Daniel Bruhl ( last seen by many as mo­tor ace Niki Lauda in Rush), play­ing a cru­sad­ing in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist look­ing into events of the era that were to prove the ruin of Maria’s fam­ily.

It could be ar­gued that Woman in Gold comes down with an in­cur­able case of the un­nec­es­sary flash­back by the half­way mark, but I am in­clined to dis­agree.

When­ever Mir­ren re­claims the con­trols, we are back “in the mo­ment” im­me­di­ately. There are few stars of her cal­i­bre still do­ing what they do at this re­fined level. Let’s ap­pre­ci­ate her while we still can.

Now show­ing State Cinema and Vil­lage

( East­lands and Launce­s­ton only)

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