If I had to sum up my critical opinion of the movie in three words they would be these: Go see it.
It was such a great movie.
"Woman In Gold" tells the story of an old woman's struggle to repossess a painting stolen by the Nazis from her Austria Jewish family during World War II.
Maria Bloch Altmann was the daughter of a wealthy Austrian industrialist who was one of Vienna's most prominent citizens. Maria lived with her parents, sister, uncle and her beloved and beautiful Aunt Adele in a magnificent home in the most upscale part of Vienna where her family entertained Vienna's artistic, cultural and musical elite during the 1920's and '30's.
Maria's uncle commissioned a family friend, artist Gustav Klimt, to paint a portrait of Maria's Aunt Adele. This painting, called "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer", hung in the family's home until their home was looted by the Nazis. Maria and her family were separated and scattered and those family members who were able fled Nazi Austria with nothing but their lives.
Maria and her husband, Viennese opera singer Fritz Altmann, spent time in a refugee camp then eventually settled in Los Angeles where they rebuilt a new life.
Klimt's painting of Maria's Aunt Adele, meanwhile, was claimed by the Austrian government and became a national treasure and object of great pride, the "Mona Lisa of Austria", loved by Austrians and art-lovers the world over. Its name had been changed from "Portrait Of Adele Bloch-Bauer" to "Woman In Gold" and its evil provenance forgotten over the decades.
That is, until 60 years later when 82-year-old American widower Maria Altmann stepped forward and laid claim to the painting.
The movie brings up a number of moral questions and dilemmas: Though the Bloch family might well have originally intended to donate the portrait of Adele to the Austrian people, would the Holocaust, during which their life was destroyed and they were disenfranchized as Austrian citizens, naturally have changed that intention? Did Maria Altmann, who would have been an heir to the painting and whose decision it would have been whether to donate the painting and to whom, still have any rights or say regarding the painting? Does a present government of a country owe restitution to the victims of the crimes of a long past government if the present government, through no fault of its own, has benefited from the persecution of the victims of the past government? Does a nation have a right to keep stolen property just because they've possessed it for so long that it feels like part of their national identity? Is patriotism standing up for your country right or wrong or for standing up against your country when you believe your country has committed an injustice?
Actress Helen Mirren, beautiful and impeccably dressed, is over-the-top wonderful as Maria Altmann and actor Ryan Reynolds is just as wonderful in the part of Randy Schonberg, the struggling and slightly schlemiely young lawyer who gets roped by his mother into helping Maria but who eventually understands that Maria's history is, in truth, intertwined with his own.