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GOLDA

Newly Added Festival Film

Guy Nattiv | 2023 | 100 MINS
UK/USA
UK Premiere

Focuses on the intensely dramatic and high-stakes responsibilities and decisions that Golda Meir (Helen Mirren), also known as the 'Iron Lady of Israel' faced during the Yom Kippur War.

In Detail

In 'Golda,' Mirren, acting with deft skill and control beneath one of those startling transformative prosthetic makeup jobs, portrays Golda Meir during the three-week cataclysm of the Yom Kippur War, which shook Israel to its bones in the fall of 1973. As the actor stands (or, more often, stoops) before us, we can believe our eyes that this is the 'Iron Lady of Israel'. For here is that frown, those beetle brows, that coarse wavy hair tied into a bun like challah bread, that pugnacious nose, that stare of implacability designed to bore a hole in its beholder. Here, as well, is the woman who lit a thousand cigarettes, chain-smoking her way through the war-room anxiety and through the secret medical treatments she was undergoing at the time for lymphoma.

Yet the voice that emerges from this formidable figure is not what we might expect. It’s light, fast, and American, and Mirren gets it exactly right. Meir, born in Ukraine in 1898, emigrated to the U.S. with her family when she was eight and grew up in Milwaukee. When she was in her early 20s, she and her husband went to live on a kibbutz in Palestine. By the time she became the fourth prime minister of Israel, in 1969, Meir resembled an old European grandmother, yet her worldly sensibility was steeped in the litheness and power of America.

Mirren makes her terse, decisive, and ferociously alive, always a step ahead of the Israeli military officers in the room - a matriarch with the toughness of a buzzard. (David Ben-Gurion meant it as a compliment when he called Meir “the only man in my cabinet.”) There’s been controversy about the casting of Mirren, since she is neither Israeli nor Jewish. But why quibble when it comes down to a great actor giving a performance that’s this authentic? The way Mirren plays it, Meir’s humanity is always there - the distress she feels at losing even one soldier is the current of her being - yet so is her ruthless pragmatism. She’s fighting for the survival of her nation, and she’ll spill a great deal of blood to do it. She’ll be called on the carpet for the orders she gives (a year later we see her answering questions before an investigative committee, after she has resigned as prime minister). Those decisions tear at her gut. But that’s what the movie is about. In 'Golda,' the fog of war becomes the gnarly upset stomach of war.

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