Sunday, 2 August 2015

A Pinoy at the Movies: Woman In Gold

I saw its movie poster a month ago, and I thought, if this was a Helen Mirren movie, it should be good. Then I forgot all about it.

Luckily, there are art cinemas in Seoul that still carried it when I finally remembered to watch it. And on the night when Tom Cruise was in Seoul, I went to watch his ex, Katie Holmes, playing a supportive wife to Ryan Reynolds. And although Dame Helen Mirren has the lead role, she, too, plays second fiddle to...the Woman In Gold.

Woman in Gold is the description of the Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer painted by an Austrian painter, Gustav Klimt. And if you saw the painting, Klimt literally covered the lady in the portrait in gold.

Before the Nazis occupied Austria, the painting was known by its original name, Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer. But when it was hung at the Belvedere Palace in Vienna during the Nazi occupation, the gallery's director changed its name to Woman in Gold to conceal the fact the Adele Block-Bauer was a Jew.  

This priceless portrait, which was now part of the Austrian psyche, was the subject of a lawsuit filed by Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) who now lived in California, and wanted to be reunited with the painting of her aunt, Adele Block-Bauer, played by a stunningly beautiful Antje Traue, a German actress.

As always, Helen Mirren gives an outstanding portrayal of someone real, her lines sprinkled with Austrian-German accent. Ryan Reynolds, without his Green Lantern superhero powers, is Mirren's young lawyer married to Katie Holmes, his very supportive housewife, who was de-glamorized you wouldn't even remember she was once married to Tom Cruise.

This film reminds me of Monuments Men, a film about the recovery and retrieval of works of art looted by the Nazis all over Europe during World War II. 

As to whether Maria Altmann was eventually reunited with her aunt, you have to watch the movie. And if this film's no longer available at the theater near you, you can still catch it at Cinecube in Gwanghwamun and CGV Arthaus in Myeongdong.  
  (The CGV Arthaus has a cinema library                        open to moviegoers)

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