This painting therefore holds a story much larger than that which is etched on the placard of the museum wall. Woman in Gold might be as conventional and as pleasant as a paint-by-numbers portrait, but it smartly brings the fuller picture as it paints the backstory of Maria and Adele’s plight. Maria tells a story of a greater collective loss as she builds a case and argues why Austria should surrender the portrait. The painting becomes a symbol of Austria’s participation in the atrocities of Nazism as Maria revisits the memories that she wants to reconcile by bringing the truth behind the prized painting to light. Woman weaves past and present as Maria relives her final days in Austria, and the contrast draws out the greater fight in Maria’s case: she wants Austria to admit its ongoing complicity in Nazism and anti-Semitism by denying people like her their legitimate connections to their homeland, their pasts, and their families.
Rating: ★★★ (out of ★★★★★)
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