Woman in Gold Movie Review
Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds star as an unlikely couple caught up in a series of sexual escapades in Woman in Gold, a drama that thankfully has nothing to do with what was just described. Actually a true story involving an old Jewish woman who sues the Austrian government to reclaim artwork that was stolen from her family by the Nazis 50 years earlier, Woman in Gold tells an interesting story in a not-so-interesting way.
In other words, a sex scene between Reynolds and Mirren would have really spiced things up.
Woman in Gold isn’t a bad movie, and as constructed it is a perfectly serviceable little drama. Reynolds is decent in the lead and Mirren is better, though both have delivered more riveting performances elsewhere. Director Simon Curtis’ work is also less than riveting. The My Week with Marilyn director does enough to make Woman in Gold watchable, but not a whole lot more.
The story itself is quite remarkable, but Curtis’ approach seems to suggest that he never believed a courtroom drama about recovering artwork could be anything more than a passable tale. Between fairly generic flashbacks to World War II and halfhearted modern day scenes, Woman in Gold takes a bland approach to the conflict at hand.
Any contentious legal case can be made thrilling or at least gripping with the right combination of writing, editing and use of music, but Curtis doesn’t do a good job of establishing what’s at stake (Mirren’s character doesn’t seem to really care) or the significance of the resistance they receive (the Austrian government isn’t exactly painted as a major villain). Nor does he establish why it’s such a contentious case in the first place—i.e. what’s at stake for the Austrian government if Mirren’s character wins.
Despite its weaknesses, Woman in Gold is serviceably entertaining. As much as it fails to be memorable, it succeeds by not being bad, either. The movie operates at a swift pace, and enough things happen to keep it from being boring.
That may not be the praise the filmmakers wanted, but it’s the praise it deserves. A Reynolds/Mirren sex scene would have gone a long way. Just saying.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.