A fan of Helen Mirren, I make a point of seeing all her films. She usually exceeds all expectations and such was the case with her superb portrayal of Maria Altmann, an elderly Jewish woman intent on seeking justice and reclaiming her heritage. I was pleasantly surprised by Ryan Reynolds who delivered a stellar performance as Randy Schoenberg, the inexperienced but determined young lawyer who helps Maria fight a lengthy court battle that takes the unlikely duo from Vienna to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Klimt’s famous painting, “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1” is at the heart of Maria’s determination to recover property illegally stolen by the Nazis. Considered the Mona Lisa of Austria, the painting has hung for decades in the National Museum of the Belvedere Palace. It is not surprising that the Austrian establishment presents so much resistance. But Maria has a special connection with her beloved Aunt Adele (figure in the painting) and persuades an initially reluctant Randy to take on her case. As the legal battle drags on, both characters experience financial and emotional strain. But Randy bounces back and persuades Maria to keep fighting.
Set in Austria and the United States, the film also includes flashbacks to World War II. Tatiana Maslany skillfully portrays young Maria during this turbulent period. Good supporting performances were also delivered by Daniel Brühl, Katie Holmes, Elizabeth McGovern, and Jonathon Pryce.
Several days have passed and I’m still thinking about this film. Definitely worth seeing.