Golda (12A) |Close-Up Film Review

Dir: Guy Nattiv, US /UK 2023, 100 mins.

Cast: Helen Mirren, Ed Stoppard, Liv Schreiber,

Review by Carlie Newman

The film focuses on how Prime Minister Golda Meir dealt with the Yom Kippur war in Israel in 1973. Highly relevant at the moment as Israel faces more onslaught from Hamas and a large number are killed or taken hostage. As the fighting continues we are horrified to learn about the threat to lives of the ordinary Israeli and Palestinian citizens as Israel fights back ; they are the ones who are suffering most. It is interesting to see and learn some real-life facts about how Golda Meir approaches and then organises the country and its officials over that period, which only lasted 19 days.

However, most of the criticism of the film has been focused on the actress playing Golda. Firstly, Helen Mirren is not Jewish and while most films and plays on the stage make huge efforts to cast people of the correct ethnicity to play appropriate parts and even assist in any way possible to have disabled people taking roles where disability is the focus, for some reason Jewish actors are not called upon to take the roles of Jews in films. Secondly, people have looked at the actress herself. She has had to have a huge amount of make-up to play the part including a prosthetic nose. That and the constant cigarette smoke around her has somehow muted the effectiveness of her characterisation. While she is effective in the part, somehow she misses the soul of the woman which, perhaps, an actress with a Jewish heritage would have provided.

Mainly consisting of a number of strategy meetings, we see Golda confronting her military advisers as they all try to devise a way of retaliating. Around the Prime Minister there are a number of good American and British actors, all of whom produce solid performances. The best scenes are those between Golda and Henry Kissinger, the U.S. Secretary of State. Played with a show of wit and sincerity, Liv Schreiber is particularly fine. The two actors work well together and there is a lovely moment when , in the best use of diplomacy, she desperately tries to get Kissinger to make Nixon support Israel,

“I am first an American, second a Secretary of State , third a Jew” says Kissinger. Golda replies, “In this country, we read from right to left.”

Mirren manages to put across some of Golda’s humanity and director Guy Nattiv gives us a number of scenes where she is having secret treatment at night for a form of cancer. It takes place in part of a hospital where she has to walk through a morgue where bodies are piled up.

Always interesting to watch and take note of past events in this troubled area, its worth a visit.