A little side business the Nazis ran while they were rounding up Jews in the 1930s was stealing their valuable artworks. This is the true story of Austrian octogenarian émigré Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren, who can do no wrong) and her legal struggle to recover the title Klimt (of her aunt) and several other paintings.
As the movie starts, in the 1990s, the renamed painting hangs in Austria’s Belvedere Museum, which considers it the “Mona Lisa of Austria” and criminally confuses possession with ownership. A point that stays with you is the degree of resistance the Austrian government puts up in its attempt to deny its Nazi complicity. Maria hires untested L.A. lawyer Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds, still struggling to shake his lightweight image), who sues the Austrian government and eventually takes the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The film toggles between the recent past and the ’30s, and—it has to be said—between stirring and sappy. Though this is of greater historic than dramatic interest, you’ll nonetheless learn some things you didn’t know about art, the law and justice. The director is Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn). Japanese title: Ogon no Adele: Meiga no Kikan. (109 min)