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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Golda (PG) - 100 minutes

Updated: Apr 27

Israel’s first and only female Prime Minister Golda Meir, who served in that capacity from 1969 to 1974, is painted as tough and unrelenting in Golda.

 

The greatest challenge for the chain smoker was navigating a conflict that could have finished Israel for good, namely the Yom Kippur War.

 

I should quickly add that there is so much smoking in this movie, it is almost as if lighting up itself is a character, a way of coping with stress … but I digress.

The Israelis were caught napping when Egypt and Syria launched coordinated attacks on the country on 6th October, 1973.

 

Although intelligence had suggested war was imminent, the Israelis hadn’t mobilised earlier, when they could have.

 

Golda deals with that three-week war and its aftermath, focusing on the pressure the PM was under.

 

What was kept secret at the time was that she was also fighting cancer.

 

But the movie is not just about her. It is also about those around her, including her then Minister for Defence, Moshe Dayan and Chief of Staff David “Dado” Elazar.

How many troops to mobilise at the outset was just one of the points of contention.

 

Vital to the war’s outcome was support from the Americans. That is where the Prime Minister’s relationship with the US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was critical.

 

The movie juxtaposes Golda’s political wiles with the close ties she had with her long-time personal assistant and confidante Lou Kaddar.

 

The war devolves to an individual level when the son of a typist within Meir’s ministerial department is called into service.

 

Written by Nicholas Martin (Florence Foster Jenkins), Golda is directed by Guy Nattiv (Skin).

The latter was born in Israel the year the war broke out and grew up with stories about the war.

 

Dealing with the politics of the time was integral to the ultimate success that Israel had, but that was far from easy or straight forward, as is shown in the film.

 

Helen Mirren makes an astounding Golda Meir.

 

Her representation of the Prime Minister is uncanny in terms of movement. The make-up artists have done an extraordinary job with prosthetics, hair and more.

 

The story unfolds through visions that Meir has while relaying her take on what happened to a commission of inquiry that was assembled in 1974.

 

Mirren represents Meir as weary but determined and defiant.

Camille Cottin is painted as devoted and stoic as personal assistant Lou Kaddar, Meir’s rock.

 

Impressive too is Liev Schreiber as the calm and measured US Secretary of State.

 

Rotem Keinan is a straight shooter (no pun intended) … all business as Zvi Zamir, the head of Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency.

 

I was intrigued by the representation of Moshe Dayan by Rami Heuberger as rattled, after he flew to inspect the extent of the initial impact of the war on Israeli fighters.

 

But this remains very much Helen Mirren’s film and she doesn’t put a foot wrong.

Tension-filled, Golda the movie requires concentration to follow … and it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

 

It plays out through a series of meetings that the Prime Minister has and phone calls she took and made, rather than through the actual fighting that took place.

 

Underlying that is Meir’s personal travails.

 

Through it all, she is seen as dignified and determined.

 

A notable feature of the film and an effective device is the use of close ups and extreme close ups focused on Meir. As they are served up, they are presented as windows to her soul.

Director Nattiv has ensured that the intense pain, the scrutiny and the decision making of the times are writ large.

 

Rated PG, Golda scores a 7 out of 10.

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