As Tough As The Guys

Stars: Helen Mirren, Camille Cottin , Liev Schreiber, Lior Ashkenazi and Dvir Benedek
Director: Guy Nattiv
Scriptwriter: Nicholas Martin
Composer: Dascha Dauenhauer
Cinematography: Jasper Wolf
Piccadilly Pictures/Bleeker Street
Rating: PG 13
Running Length: 100 Minutes

If you close your eyes and listen closely to Helen Mirren’s portrayal of Golda Meir, every once in a while, you will hear the faintest British accent begin and then end with a personification of the late Golda Meir. Even with stiff make-up, body padding and holding a continuously-lit cigarette, there is no Golda Meir in the room. What is given to the audience in this film is what happens to Golda behind the scenes – her personal health, for example – and then the war room as Israel goes through the Yom Kippur War of 1973. One of many, many wars fought in the Middle East through the centuries, and will continue, as countries claim, lose and reclaim territory. This time is of importance, as Israel has a lady Prime Minister who has to prove herself time and time again that she is as tough at the guys.

“Golda” begins with headlines from 1947 and what is called a “news-print war.” Fast forward to 1967 when Moshe Dayan (Rami Heuberger) is head of the Israeli state, and then 1969 when Golda Meir becomes the first Lady Prime Minister. Then, we are in 1974 with a Board of Inquiry about the past Yom Kippur War of 1973, at which Golda Meir is questioned about war decisions that were made and troops that were lost. The film concerns the Yom Kippur War between Israel and Syria and Egypt, with Russia on the sidelines. The war began with a surprise attack from Syria and Egypt on the morning of Yom Kippur, a major Jewish holiday. This covers a great part of the film, with scenes against a dark background that are hard to see and sometimes, hard to hear. This is a bunker from which the war is fought. You can always find Golda Meir from the constantly lit cigarette she always carries. We meet the top officials a Prime Minister deals with such as Henry Kissinger (Liev Schreiber) or Moshe Dayan. The audience learns what makes a Golda Meir and that she has a secret she keeps from the rest of the world. s far as acting is concerned, Helen Mirren is always precise in her characterizations, and seems to delve into heads of state (Queen Elizabeth 2 and Golda Meir) with ease. What works against her here is the amount of make-up used to act as Golda Meir and it becomes obvious as times. Her diction is fine and her tough attitude in place as a female Prime Minister in a decidedly male land when decisions to be made meant life or death. Others of note are Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”) as Henry Kissinger who deals with Meir in war matters between the United States and Israel. Also, Rami Heuberger, expressive as Moshe Dayan, and Camille Cottin (Killing Eve) as Lou Kaddar, Meir’s longtime personal assistant, who is with her in wartime and health matters.

“Golda” is really a biopic that goes from one scene to another like going through a photo album. There is very little expression shown, though it is wartime, this is also work. The make-up on Helen Mirren is overly done. This is a slow-paced film that shows the Yom Kippur War to be 18 days long before a cease fire. It starts, it continues, it ends. Director Guy Nattiv gives the audience a lesson in Middle East history. Unfortunately, there may be more wars yet to come.

Copyright 2023 Marie Asner