Guy Nattiv, UK | USA 2023
Helen Mirren has left her outstanding portrayals of Queen Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II in her rearview mirror to completely embody Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir during the devastating 20-day Yom Kipper War. The moviegoer is fascinated to watch Mirren completely disappear under mounds of makeup, layers of latex, and pounds of prosthetics. (That’s part of the appeal of going to see the film.) Yet her eyes say it all, and give the audience a glimpse into her resolute, yet aching soul. Golda Meir is grandmotherly, stocky, frumpy, and plods along in orthopedic shoes during this final phase of her life. The setting is somber, gloomy, and much of it is in a morgue in a hospital where she is being secretly treated for lymphoma. The rest of the time she is in her apartment, unable to sleep. Or surrounded by her male war cabinet in constant consultation about the path forward once they had been caught completely off guard by the Arab coalition’s surprise attack. Diplomacy had failed, and the one time arrogant Six-Day War hero Moshe Dayan has lost his swager along with his military acumen. He had assured her there would be no war. Chief of Staff David 'Dado' Elazar, Director of Military Intelligence Eli Zeira, and a young ambitious Ariel Sharon are initially as indecisive and as helpless as Golda. As prime minister she must make the final decision as to how to proceed. Golda summons the American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who isn’t quite as supportive as she had hoped. But she gets her revenge forcing him to eat her housekeeper’s borscht. Her only solace is her friendship with Lou Kaddar who can offer her comfort between the horror of war and the horror of her illness. The smoke from the countless cigarettes she inhales almost every moment of every waking hour hangs over the film like a transparent shroud.