Golda

August 25, 202350/1006 min
Starring
Helen Mirren, Zed Josef, Claudette Williams
Written by
Nicholas Martin
Directed by
Guy Native
Run Time
1h 40 min
Release Date
August 25th, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Summary

              I sometimes  imagine an actor receiving a script and just wanting to disappear into the role they’ve been offered. Often, when they want someone like Helen Mirren, they want Hellen Mirren and not for her to be completely unrecognizable. In her new film Golda, where Mirren portrays Golda Meir, Prime Minster during the Yom Kippur War, she completely vanishes, transforming into Golda Meir before your eyes. I love witnessing such a transformation, but I just wished I was as impressed with the end result as I was when the film began.

Meir (Helen Mirren), who was the first woman to hold the office of Prime Minister in Israel, did so from 1969 to 1974. However, this isn’t a birth -to -death story. Instead screenwriter Nicholas Martin zeroes in on 1973 and the Yom Kippur War.  This conflict stemmed for a surprise attack launched by Egypt and Syria on Israel leading to subsequent events, including  a peace treaty and Egypt recognizing Israel as a legitimate state. The war lasted for slightly more than two weeks, but would have lasting effects far beyond that, as did the unwavering determination Meir displayed during that time tumultuous period. Dealing with health issues, Meir somehow sensed the impending attack, but ignored those feelings, something she regretted after the war’s conclusion.

Most of Golda unfolds in the cold, dark and winding- government buildings, occasionally featuring moments on the rooftop where Meir converses with her personal assistant (Camille Cottin). The cabinet members are introduced along with their names and positions displayed on the screen. Yet, you’ll be relieved there’s no quiz at the movie’s end that requires you to remember those names. While not an exceptional  “war” film, Golda  effectively delves into Meir’s character study without diminishing the significance of the war itself. I make reference to it not being a good “war” movie, because of the decisions on how to depict the war, often done in what looks like video game graphics from the late 80’s. That decision doesn’t significantly impact the movie, as it primarily centers on Meir’s actions during the conflict.

Golda is undeniably a character study first and foremost. Primarily illuminating Meir’s psyche. It is that reason that much of the film is on Mirren’s shoulders, and although she brilliantly embodies the character, I wouldn’t call this a great performance. Mirren has the look down, with help from Karen Hartley Thomas, who is credited with hair and make-up, but it’s not just the look. Mirren captures Meir’s personality as well. As for the rest of the cast, they are fine, but this is feels like a showcase for Mirren, and that is simply not enough for the final product. Also working against it, Golda has a TV-quality to it, feeling more like a Sunday night network movie than a feature film. I can appreciate that Mirren is giving it her all, and I do like seeing her in something with more meat on it than her most recent work. Unfortunately, there’s not enough to elevate this film to memorable. In the end, Golda remains nothing beyond average.

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