Golda (2023)

Golda (2023)

A satisfying biopic that doesn't shy away from history's contradictions



United Kingdom, United States of America
English, Hebrew
Drama, History, Thriller, War
Ben Caplan, Camille Cottin, Daniel Ben Zenou
101 min


Proof that neither the past nor the present is reducible to a one-sided story.

What it's about

A biopic portraying Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel, during the twenty days of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

The take

Golda Meir was Israel's only female Prime Minister and that's already reason enough a biopic celebrating her historical importance would be made. Oscar-winning Israeli director Guy Nattiv rose to the task and Meir's own grandson requested British actress Helen Mirren to play the role of his grandmother (a decision that was not left undisputed). However, Miren is a virtuoso of stoic, physically confined acting and delivers a strong performance as the elderly Golda in the wake of a militarized attack on Israel coming from Egypt and Syria. Instead of being caught in the web of global politics between the Arab world, Russia, and the United States, she navigates the terrain with sustained empathy, although not without failings. The film itself describes Golda as a hero outside of Israel and controversial in her own land, and it does well enough in embodying that very same controversy.



What stands out

“I’m a politician, not a soldier,” is a phrase Golda Meir utters around the film's halfway mark, during a scene where the mounting pressures push her into making a warfare decision she'd later regret. This may be one of the two confessional sentences she lets slip during the whole runtime, but Golda's visual style and sound portray the protagonist's helplessness and despair without the need for words. One scene in particular distills the enormous distress the Prime Minister's body is physically rebelling agains: a feverish nightmare of news reports, live transmissions from the trenches, thumping noises, soaring violins, clanking, and whispers absorbs all the air in the room where she tries to sleep. An ailing, aging woman, who's fighting a war while being treated for lymphoma stands strong, supported only by the tightly-locked framing of the camera.


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