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While the message and feeling of what Women in Gold tries to give you is clear, somehow the young Maslany finds a way to arguably upstage the veteran which is Helen Mirren.
Director: Simon Curtis
Writer: Alexi Kaye Campbell (Based off the life stories of E. Randol Schoenberg and Maria Altmann)
Trigger Warning(s): Nazi presence
Review (with Spoilers) – Below
Characters & Story
Maria Altman (Helen Mirren & Tatiana Maslany) was a woman of a certain birth. Her family owned diamonds, lived in a posh apartment, and had paintings of themselves, and family members, within their home. However, with the rise of the Nazi party, and Hitler’s invasion of Austria, came the loss of property, life, and a bit of dignity. But, in Maria’s later years, thanks to the assistance of Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), there is an attempt for justice. For while the lives lost cannot be recouped, the precious art lost due to the Nazi occupation is attempted to be retrieved – thus leading to Maria and Randol’s fight against the Austrian government.
While, without a doubt, Mirren is a veteran and could perform most roles in her sleep, it is Maslany who deserves all the praise. If only perhaps because she goes beyond what is expected and almost steals the film from Mirren. For while Mirren is the star, with every flashback to her younger years, Maslany crafts a tale which makes you almost wish Mirren was just part of a second act, or epilogue, so Maslany could really give us the performance she is only given the time to give us a taste of.
But, as for the story as a whole, while the film doesn’t lead to tears, it does remind you how multifaceted the damage of prejudice has been in history. For while Maria survived the holocaust, it meant leaving life, and a bit of her culture, behind. Of which, despite the clear injustice, and how her family’s art was stolen, she was given an uphill battle which required more than a year of court cases. Showing that, no matter what your ethnic background, there are always obstacles which will be placed when your dignity doesn’t serve the government’s best interest.
While I do love and enjoy Helen Mirren, I do feel she dialed this one in a bit. If only because the film decides to use flashback sequences and while Maslany seemingly is putting effort into her performance, it seems Mirren is just being herself with Austrian flavor. Making it so that Maslany is forced to push the weight of what happens onto you, and Mirren is just there to benefit. Leading me to think, about halfway through the movie, perhaps Mirren and Reynolds shouldn’t haven’t even been cast but maybe the film should have just focused on the younger years of Mrs. Altmann and kept the epilogue of what Schoenberg did for her.
Overall: TV Viewing
While the message is clear, and Maslany shows she is perhaps one of the most underestimated actresses in the business, Mirren and Reynolds part of the film is more a liability than an asset. Thus turning what could have been a quality film, if it just focused on Altmann’s younger years, into a boring legal drama which relies so much on Maslany to give it emotional depth that you wonder if Mirren, and maybe even Reynolds, were just going through the motions while filming.