Movie Review: Woman in Gold -- The Art of Justice

04/01/2015 04:51 pm ET | Updated Jun 01, 2015


Does it matter that Woman in Gold, Simon Curtis' moving drama about a woman seeking the return of art the Nazis stole from her family 50 years earlier, seems stenciled from a familiar template?

If the plot of this film - with its tale of a young professional man cajoled into taking on a monolithic institution at the request (insistence?) of an older woman - sounds familiar, you probably saw 2013's Philomena. Except, instead of an aging Catholic matron hunting for the baby that was taken from her, Woman in Gold deals with an aging Jewish woman trying to reclaim part of her family heritage, a half century after the Holocaust.

Her name is Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) and, in this film based on a true story, she is a Los Angeles widow in 1998, when her sister dies. Among her sister's effects are letters that convince Maria that there might be a way to reclaim paintings - portraits of her aunt by Gustav Klimt and other of his paintings - that were taken by the Nazis, under Austria's reparation program. Having fled the country shortly after the Nazi invasion, Altmann now wants an acknowledgement of the wrong she and her family suffered and the return of her possessions.

This review continues on my website.