Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Katie Holmes, Daniel Bruhl, Tatiana Maslany, Max Irons, Charles Dance, Elizabeth McGovern, Jonathan Pryce
Alexi Kaye Campbell
Maria Altmann, an octogenarian Jewish refugee, takes on the Austrian government to recover artwork she believes rightfully belongs to her family.
$2,091,551 on 258 Screens.
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 109 min.
Release Date: 7/7/2015
• Audio Commentary with Director Simon Curtis and Producer David M. Thompson
• “The Making of Woman in Gold” Featurette
• Neue Galerie New York Press Conference
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Woman in Gold [Blu-Ray] (2015)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 29, 2015)
With 2015’s Woman in Gold, we find a drama based on true events. During World War II, the Germans confiscated massive amounts of art that belonged to private citizens – mostly Jewish citizens, inevitably. Among these, the Nazis stole Gustav Klimt’s “Woman in Gold”.
This painting depicted the aunt of an Austrian Jew named Maria Altmann, and in 1998, Maria (Helen Mirren) decides to take action related to the artwork. She attempts to get the Klimt back from the Austrian government, and when they resist, she enlists the help of attorney Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds). We follow their efforts as well as aspects of Maria’s earlier life.
When Gold satisfies, it does so almost entirely due to the chemistry between its leads. Neither produces stellar work, as Mirren has been more convincing elsewhere, and Reynolds fares best in comedies.
Still, they offer good heart and spirit in their roles, and they show nice chemistry. The scenes between Maria and Randy turn into the most enjoyable we find.
Unfortunately, the rest of the movie doesn’t work nearly as well. When Gold focuses on the legal drama, it can seem compelling, but it spends large swaths of time with younger Maria and family back in the 1930s.
On the surface, these scenes should succeed. Given all the natural drama of the circumstances faced by Jews in Nazi-occupied territories, the movie possesses great potential to become taut and involving.
However, it never seems especially interesting, and not because we know Maria will survive. We’re aware that the protagonist in Sophie’s Choice escapes but that film’s flashbacks remain emotional and gripping.
Such sentiments fail to manifest during Gold’s flashbacks. Surprisingly little drama occurs during those scenes, as we find ourselves oddly distanced from Maria and the others. If anything, those scenes become a distraction; whenever we head to the 1930s, we wish we were back in 1998 with Mirren and Reynolds.
Even they have their limits, which means Gold wears out its welcome before it ends. I understand that the story needs to explore all the paths the legal quest took, but these can become tedious along the way.
In the end, Gold seems watchable across its 109 minutes, but it feels curiously unemotional. When the story should peak and prompt years, the viewer seems likely to stay detached from events. This is an interesting story that suffers from lackluster execution.
The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+
Woman in Gold appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a satisfying image.
From start to finish, sharpness looked good. Only the slightest hint of softness affected wide shots, and those examples occurred too infrequently to cause problems. Instead, the film looked concise and well-defined. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge enhancement was absent. I also failed to detect any source flaws.
In terms of colors, the movie featured a palette that favored a slight golden tone or some teal. Across the board, the hues looked fine within those parameters. Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows appeared clear and smooth. I thought the movie consistently looked positive.
I thought that the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Gold seemed fine but it didn’t excel because of a lack of ambition. Like most character dramas, the movie featured a limited soundfield that strongly favored the forward channels. It showed nice stereo spread to the music as well as some general ambience from the sides. Panning was decent, and the surrounds usually kicked in basic reinforcement.
Audio quality appeared good. Speech was natural and distinct, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, with good fidelity and no signs of distortion. Music was perfectly fine, as the score and songs showed positive dimensionality. This track was good enough for a “B-“ but didn’t particularly impress.
A few extras fill out the set, and these include an audio commentary with director Simon Curtis and producer David M. Thompson. They sit together for a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, factual background for the tale, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, editing and related topics.
From start to finish, Curtis and Thompson provide a competent commentary. They give us the appropriate details and make this a reasonably informative chat, but it never threatens to become especially engaging. It accomplishes its goals, though.
Next comes The Making of Woman in Gold. It runs 23 minutes, 41 seconds and includes notes from Curtis, Thompson, Maria Altmann, Randol Schoenberg, and actors Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Bruhl, Tatiana Maslany, Max Irons, Katie Holmes and Elizabeth McGovern. The show covers story/character areas and the history behind the movie, cast and performances, and Curtis’s impact on the project. The comments about the film’s creation lack much depth, but I like the glimpses of the real people behind the events.
A Neue Galerie New York Press Conference goes for 10 minutes, 38 seconds and features information about the art seen in the film. Some of these details repeat from what we hear elsewhere, but we still get some decent background about the Klimt paintings.
The disc opens with ads for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Imitation Game and Philomena. We also get a promo for the documentary Stealing Klimt but we find no trailer for Gold.
Due to its lead actors, Woman in Gold occasionally comes to life. Unfortunately, the movie explores its subject in a lackluster manner and tends to plod. The Blu-ray offers good picture and audio along with decent supplements. Gold keeps us with it but it doesn’t become as memorable as it should.
Viewer Film Ratings: 3.3333 Stars
| Number of Votes: 3