Helen Mirren is an old Austrian woman living in America who after the death of her sister makes plans to reclaim artwork, in particular Gustav Klimt’s Woman in Gold, that had been stolen from her family by Nazis in the Second World War. She teams up with Ryan Reynolds as the lawyer son of her friend to legally retake this art.
Now before you notice the Reynolds Mirren chemistry plotline and start to say “Hey that’s like exactly the same as Philomena”, let me assure you that yes, it is. Only there isn’t much actual chemistry between the two of them. At one point Reynolds says “you know, despite my better judgement, I like you” and you just think no, no you don’t. All they have done is interact awkwardly and argue a bit. But to be honest the writers have tried so hard to make Mirren’s character quirky and ‘a real personality’ she just comes across as rude and irritating.
And I actually didn’t enjoy any of the bits with Mirren in, which doesn’t bode well for a movie in which she is the main character. But it wasn’t all bad, there is a good movie here: in the flashbacks. I would happily just watch a whole film of these flashback bits without any of the Helen Mirren things. It’s not that I hold anything against Mirren herself she is an incredible actor, but her character is just one I found incredibly selfish and annoying.
I’m glad they tried to make a film about this true story, because it is fascinating. I just resent the angle they went with. Because just remaking Philomena with more courtroom scenes doesn’t work. Another problem I had with the film was that all of the Austrian art owners are portrayed as literally the same as the Nazis in the flashback sequences, a comparison I think is uncomfortable and probably unfair.
Overall there is a good film to be watched here, it’s just a shame that it isn’t the main storyline. It does pick up towards the end but it’s such a dreary plodding start that it doesn’t really matter.