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Woman in Gold

In the late 1930’s, life for the Altmann family has its challenges. The rise of anti-Jewish attitudes in the community and the influence of the Nazi regime brings fear and anxiety to many. The Altmann’s live in Vienna in Austria and they do their best to keep their lives as normal as possible. Maria Altmann (played by Tatiana Maslany then Helen Mirren) has a loving family life. Her family shares their home with her Uncle and Aunt. Her Aunt Adele (by Antje Traue) is the most beautiful woman she’s ever seen. Others think so too and when a famous artist paints her portrait, complete with real gold leaf appliqué, it is wonderful and universally applauded. Things in the city become difficult and Maria eventually escapes Vienna and reaches the United States. But she knows the wonderful painting was looted by the Nazis and is now in the hands of the Austrian Government. In one final act of defiance against the oppressive times of her youth, she begins a campaign to return the painting to its rightful owners – her family. 

This story is true, which makes it fascinating from the point of view of Maria Altmann’s strength in being able to face the difficult times of her past. However, I found the production quite pedestrian. There’s just not quite enough in it for me. Helen Mirren is not nearly as vibrant here as she can be, with Ryan Reynolds as the co-lead, being equally bland overall. Katie Holmes adds little and others are unremarkable. However, to be fair, story is still told well. Antje Traue, as Aunt Adele, is a truly stunning woman and she even outshines the fabulous jewellery that features in this story. Vienna looks nice and the flashbacks to Maria’s past are well done. It is good to see Elizabeth McGovern hasn’t been typecast as her “Downton Abbey” television character, Cora Crawley. She does a nice job in her cameo here. Overall though, this movie is only average for me. 

Made in 2015. Directed by Simon Curtis.

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Posted by on September 13, 2015 in Movies

 

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Safe House

Matt Weston (played by Ryan Reynolds) lives in Cape Town, South Africa with his French girlfriend Ana (by Nora Arnezeder). They would love to relocate to Paris, but Matt’s job won’t allow this at present. Ana doesn’t know it, but he is a fledgling agent of the US Secret Service assigned to manage a Cape Town CIA safe house. He is frustrated because he wants to see active service so he can get a promotion and he keeps the safe house at the ready at all times, but the CIA never seem to need it. Elsewhere in Cape Town, Tobin Frost (by Denzel Washington) is in a bit of bother – he’s an ex-CIA operative and he has something that’s highly valuable to the CIA and other international security agencies – he plans to use it to expose the underhand dealings in these organisations. A team of dangerous gunmen are pursuing him for this valuable cargo so he turns himself over to the US Consulate to escape – he is immediately recognised and as the US government want to keep him where they can see him, they keep him under wraps until they can get him out – at Matt’s safe house. Now all Matt has to do is keep Frost safe and not let him out of his sight until he can be interrogated – but that’s easier said than done ….

The plot of this movie is interesting and Daniel Espinosa makes good use of hand-held camera work to depict the chaos of the environment. However, most of the characters are only given superficial treatment – I would have preferred to see more depth in both Weston and Frost as the leads and particularly more made of Vera Farmiga’s character as a CIA agent. But as a thriller, it serves its purpose – the twists are far between but there are chases, gunfights and punch-ups for those who enjoy that sort of thing. Sam Shepard and Brendan Gleeson join Farmiga as supporting CIA agents whose allegiances are curiously blurred. This is the first American film from Swedish director Espinosa – but there’s not quite enough in this for me.

Made in 2012. Directed by Daniel Espinosa

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2013 in Movies

 

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