Here is a film that not only recounts a compelling story, but delivers artistic results as well. It ranked high on my list for a number of reasons, least of which is the fact that the storyteller is my friend, Randy Schoenberg. The fact that I know Randy, knew him before, (I gave Pam and Randy their school tour at Sinai Akiba Academy), and during this famous trial, made the viewing of this film extra special for me. But you do not have to know Randy in order to enjoy and learn from this film. It accomplishes all of that on its own. If you are not familiar with the story, then listen up. Maria Altmann, a friend of Randy’s grandmother, had one aunt, who just happened to be the subject of Austrian artist, Gustav Klimt’s famous painting, “Woman In Gold.” It hung above the mantle in her home, which she shared with Maria’s family. Her husband, Maria’s uncle, commissioned Klimt. The Nazis stole it and many other works of art and jewels from Maria’s family as they occupied their home in the 1930’s when they marched into Vienna.
Fast forward almost 70 years later when Randy, then a struggling lawyer, is asked by his mother to assist Maria, a friend of the Schoenberg family, with a “small” matter. This matter involved recovering her stolen art now hanging on the walls of the Belvedere Museum in Vienna. Randy took the case on contingency and sued the Austrian government.
Do not fear, I haven’t spoiled the film for you, there is so much more to this film than than meets the eye, so to speak.
There are many important things to like about this film, starting with Helen Mirren, who plays Maria, heart throb Ryan Reynolds, who plays Randy, (and yes Randy joked about that!), and Canadian actress, Tatiana Maslany who plays young Maria and speaks in fluent German! All of the performances are honest and tender, captivating and convincing.
I would recommend that you run not walk to this film. It is yet another incredulous Holocaust story.