Woman in Gold (2015)

(On Cable TV, March 2016) Ryan Reynolds tends to play comic motormouths or action heroes, so it’s not surprising if part of Woman in Gold’s interest in seeing him in the strikingly different role of an earnest and nebbish lawyer who discovers his conscience while helping an elderly Jewish woman recover long-seized family belongings. That the belongings in question are Gustave Klimt painting confiscated by Nazis isn’t immaterial, and enable the film to play in various modes, from historical drama to art appreciation to legal drama to family history. The star of the film isn’t Reynolds, but rather Helen Mirren, revisiting painful family history when she becomes aware that she could reclaim part of her family legacy, abandoned when they fled Nazi Austria. Much of the film’s first half is entirely hers—Reynolds’ character only develops later on. While Woman in Gold feels too long, and derivative in the way it portrays the flashbacks to 1930s Austria, it does build quite an amazing true story and should appeal to an interesting variety of audiences. For Reynolds fans, it’s a reminder that he can act beyond his usual charm, and hold his own against a veteran such as Mirren.

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