Woman in Gold

Helen Mirren is one of those performers rarely failing to deliver.  With a catalogue of fine work to her name, her films have been engaging.  Putting in another solid turn with ‘Woman in Gold’, her thespian skills remained unsullied.  A quasi-companion piece to last year’s movie ‘Monuments Men’, which dealt with retrieving artworks stolen by the Nazis, it presents a more personal story.  Aided by Mirren’s esteemed presence, the emotional pain her character feels resonates through the screen.


Determined to recover a treasured family portrait taken by the Nazis during World War 2, Maria Altman (Helen Mirren) is resolute.  Hiring young lawyer Randol (Ryan Reynolds), she takes her case to the American Supreme Court.  Wanting closure and justice to war victims, Maria stops at nothing in her quest.  Battling a litany of lies and deception, only her iron-will can see her triumph over the ghosts from a terrible war.


‘Woman in Gold’ may not be entirely original, but has plenty of genuine heart.  Maria’s stoic determination to regain her family’s dignity is successfully conveyed via Mirren’s spirited performance.  She doesn’t over-exert her character’s emotions by subtly showing the long-buried pain she has carried.  Faced with old demons and a bureaucracy eager to hold onto their ‘treasures’, how Maria was able to withstand this personal onslaught is remarkable.  Based on true events, director Simon Curtis presents an interesting slice of history.


This isn’t just Mirren’s movie as her co-stars turn in equally strong performances.  Reynolds matches Mirren’s strong role with a character battling his own familial crisis.  Torn between past and present, his professional ideals become sorely tested.   The criss-crossing of timelines from the 1940’s until now are expertly interwoven as is the stark cinematography.  Whilst the story drags somewhat with some over-done emotional beats, ‘Woman in Gold’ delivers a generally solid true story.


Fans of Helen Mirren will be sure to enjoy ‘Woman in Gold’. Her latest only magnifies her amazing skills with this doyen of all fields of entertainment gaining another feather to her distinguished bow.


Rating out of 10:  7


‘Aloha’ proves without genuine character chemistry, a film can fail.  Australian music group Mondo Rock once sang ‘if the chemistry is right’.  Sadly director Cameron Crowe obviously didn’t hear their song as his script features hardly any.  You can’t blame the actors as they can only portray what they’ve been given.  Despite good intentions, ‘Aloha’ is a cinematic mis-fire mostly devoid of anything truly engaging. 


Brian (Bradley Cooper) is a military contractor assigned to the US space program in Hawaii.  Escorted by no-nonsense Air-Force pilot Allison (Emma Stone), he sets about his tasks.  When former flame Tracy (Rachel McAdams) re-enters his life, his mind goes into a tailspin.  His growing attraction to Allison sends Brian’s existence into free-fall.  Confused by his feelings, he has to choose between two women who have enslaved his tortured heart.


Filled with over-acting, self-indulgence and poor direction, ‘Aloha’ completely fails as a romantic comedy.  Whilst some aspects gain interest, these are almost instantly negated by a clumsily written narrative.  You are never sure of character’s actions with the main love triangle feeling forced.  The performers seem lost as to how to play their roles with Stone especially guilty of poor acting.  The rambling story stumbles to a shuddering climax making little sense showing little of its early promise.


Despite these lacklustre qualities, it can’t be denied Hawaii is beautifully shot.  Somewhat a love-letter to its lush locale, the movie digs deep into its spiritual motifs its native inhabitants live by.  This brings some diversion to the pedestrian screenplay and badly executed humour.  Crowe should have maintained better focus on telling an interesting tale than filming pointless scenes failing to blend into the other. 


‘Aloha’ is a messy affair occasionally making some sense.  It never really takes off as the leaden pacing enhances its issues.  Those looking for any chemistry from its supposed romantically inclined characters are better off watching better love stories than this one.


Rating out of 10:  3