The art of the matter
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)