Director of Woman in Gold: “It’s a Reminder of the Perils of Picking on Anybody Because of Race or Religion”

Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds and the Woman in Gold in question.
Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds and the Woman in Gold in question.

Simon Curtis speaks fast. He can burn through fifteen questions in less than ten minutes. He also has no trouble keeping his answers short if an adverb suffices. The director of My Week with Marilyn (for which Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh received Oscar nominations) is now back in the big screen with the more modern drama Woman in Gold.

In 1998, Austria introduced new legislation to deal with the restitution of artwork stolen during the country’s annexation to Nazi Germany. While the measure was mostly a public relations move, it opened the door to dozen of claims. Woman in Gold follows Maria (Helen Mirren) and her lawyer Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds) as they battle the Austrian Government for the ownership of five Klimt paintings, including the emblematic “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer”. The legal face-off is combined with flashbacks of a just-married Maria watching powerlessly as the Nazis wrecking havoc on his family and the Jewish community in Vienna.

I had the chance to talk with Curtis in Toronto a couple of weeks ago.

– Woman in Gold feels particularly timely.

– True, Woman in Gold is a movie of many layers, but the theme that emerges as the predominant one is to what extent do we have the responsibility to move on. The film has landed in very troubled times: Anti-Semitism is definitely alive, much more than one would have hoped so. Woman in Gold is a reminder of the perils of picking on anybody because of their race or religion. Continue reading “Director of Woman in Gold: “It’s a Reminder of the Perils of Picking on Anybody Because of Race or Religion””