Coming to theatres from director Guy Nattiv, writer Nicholas Martin, ShivHans Pictures and Bleecker Street comes the story of strength, courage and moments of pain when you are GOLDA.
Golda Meir (Helen Mirren) is the Prime Minister of Israel in the 1970’s and the country is still vying for recognition. It is when she is informed that the enemies in Egypt and Syria are coming that she leans on her military for guidance and planning. Israeli Defense Force leader Dado Elazar (Lior Ashkenazi) and the head of Mossad Moshe Dayan (Rami Heuberger) give Golda their plans. So begins the Yom Kippur War.
Watching over Golda is Lou Kaddar (Camille Cottin) who sees to her personal and medical needs knowing the struggle she is going through. Another ally is Henry Kissinger (Liev Schrieber) who wants to help Golda but also has an obligation to the United States, especially as Nixon is on the ropes for Watergate.
Golda struggles with the staggering human life consequences and keeps notes of the toll is it taking on the country. Even her trusted military staff have their moments of struggle with the anxiety of what Egypt is capable of.
Although grandmotherly in her concern for staff who have sons, brother, husbands and other family members fighting, Golda cannot let herself steer from the larger picture. She makes decisions for all of Israel and some of them are extremely painful. Being a leader comes with heavy baggage as she also fights her own personal battle.
Yet, she stands, each and every day, with what must be done to make it clear that Israel will not fall, never.
Mirren as Golda has certainly played her fair share of historical figures from Queen Elizabeth in both THE QUEEN and THE AUDIENCE, to Catherine the Great in the film by the same name. I have been in awe of Mirren since I first saw her in 1981 as Morgana in EXCALIBUR. She has been in several of my favorite films such as 2014’s THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY and THE 2015 WOMAN IN GOLD. Her body of work has such range and always unexpected and as Golda, she has once again proven (as if she needs to) that she can do any role.
Cottin as Kaddar plays such an unsung heroine role as the woman who understands Golda and stays with her every grueling step. She understands the amazing importance of Golda being the Prime Minister but, more importantly, what she can accomplish. Ashkenazi and Heuberger also understand that her presence for the people of Israel is crucial and their roles are equally as important in telling this story.
Schreiber as Kissinger gives us a man who wants to do more for Israel and realizes the importance of doing so. The problem is he is also Secretary of State for the United States and that country is dealing with President Nixon and Watergate. Even having a bowl of borscht, Schreiber’s Kissinger knows Golda is going to do what Golda is going to do.
Other cast include Ohad Knoller as Ariel Sharon, Dominic Mafham as Haim Bar-Lev, Ellie Piercy as Shir Shapiro, Ed Stoppard as Benny Peled, Rotem Keinan as Zvi Zamir, Dvir Benedek as Eli Zeira, and Emma Davies as Miss Epstein.
Bleecker Street is a New York City film company that has brought outstanding films to the public. Their library includes TRUMBO, DENIAL, THE LOST CITY OF Z, BEIRUT, HOTEL MUMBAI, ORDINARY LOVE and THE ROADS NOT TAKEN. For more information on the titles from Bleeker Street please visit www.bleeckerstreetmedia.com.
GOLDA has its world premiere at the 2023 Berlin International Film Festival.
The pain in many scenes is clear on Mirren’s character’s face and it comes straight through the screen. It was not necessary to show death because the sounds coming from the short-wave radio that Golda and military staff hear are heartbreaking. Continual decision-making military plans are done sitting in Golda’s home where cake and cigarettes are served in large supply and it adds to the authenticity of the story director Nattiv and writer Nicholas Martin are trying to convey.
It is easy to sell this off as a bio-pic, which it is, but GOLDA is so much more than that. It is a story of a woman in an impossible situation making life and death decisions while she, herself, is in a life and death situation. Puffing away on her cigarettes continually, I imagine it was the only way that Golda could maintain calm and thought.
Mirren gives Golda everything from the pinned up greyish hair to the iconic shoes and purse. Quite honestly, if you didn’t know it was Mirren then you wouldn’t know it was Mirren. The makeup is so well done and moves with ease as she speaks and the cankle legs are realistically familiar, just like grandmas.
The filming is beautifully done and being a period piece, it is filled with everything would expect of the time period. I remember being a kid in 1973 and the Yom Kippur War being mentioned on the nightly news. I even remember seeing the face of Golda Meir on the screen and thinking she looked like my great-grandmother Emma. The equipment is a reminder of the time as well as the telephone, typewriters, televisions etc. That adds such richness to the film and the story.
In the end – one woman stood between victory and defeat!