Sorry this is more than a week late, but here goes the first official post for the 30 Day Film Challenge!
To be honest, I actually started watching the films for the challenge last week, but I didn’t get a chance to write about any of them until today. Let’s just say I’ve been doing a lot of job searching, and all my writing capabilities have been exhausted in cover letters and resumes. Also, “winter cleaning” has been eating up a huge chunk of my time. Many of the rooms in my home have become storage rooms filled with boxes of random stuff, so I’ve been spending the past week figuring out what to keep and what to throw out. It’s amazing how many things my family has accumulated over 25 years.
But getting back to the challenge, the first film I watched was Woman in Gold. The reason I chose to watch this movie was because it stars Helen Mirren, one of my all-time favorite actresses. The trailer wasn’t too bad either, and I could get it on Netflix, so I decided to give this movie a go.
Based on true events, Woman in Gold follows the story of Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren), a Jewish woman who fights the Austrian government to reclaim a painting of her aunt, which the Nazis had stolen from her family. Maria, who now resides in Los Angeles as an elderly shopkeeper, teams up with a young, inexperienced lawyer Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds) to reclaim the painting, which now hangs in the Belvedere Palace in Vienna and is known to the Austrian people as the iconic “Woman in Gold.”A complicated legal battle ensues, and Maria also finds herself caught in a personal battle, as the journey to take back the painting forces her to relive and confront some painful memories from her past.
Helen Mirren delivers an outstanding, touching performance, but she may be the only reason why this movie is worth watching. While the film has a fascinating true story to work with, the execution was a bit disappointing, especially the pacing. Certain parts of the movie felt slow and dragged out, while other parts seem to move too quickly and gloss over moments that could have been very powerful or meaningful. Character development was also unbalanced. While I felt I could understand Maria, her story, and her motive for wanting to reclaim the painting, I didn’t understand Randol’s character. He felt like he was there only because he had to, since he was the one who keeps the legal battle moving. His character is dull and flat, and unfortunately, Ryan Reynolds couldn’t make him any more interesting.
I would give this film a 3 out of 5 stars because it was an average film. It wasn’t a horrible movie, but it wasn’t an extremely outstanding or memorable one either, and I don’t think I would watch it a second time. Nevertheless, if you don’t know what else to watch on a free night, or if you love Helen Mirren, feel free to give this movie a try, but definitely don’t feel the pressure to watch it this instant.
Title: Woman in Gold
Director: Simon Curtis
Writer: Alexi Kaye Campbell
Cast: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Brühl, Katie Holmes, Tatiana Maslany
Run time: 1 hr 50 min