(director: Guy Nattiv; screenwriter: Nicholas Martin; cinematographer: Jasper Wolf; editor: Arak Lahav-Leibovich; music: Dascha Dauenha uer; cast: Helen Mirren (Golda Meir), Zed Josef (Adam Snir), Henry Goodman (Chairman Agranat), Emma Davies (Miss Epstein), Liev Schreiber (Henry Kissinger), Dvir Benedek (Eli Zeira), Ed Stoppard (Benny Peled),Ohad Kollner (Ariel Sharon), Dominic Mafham (Haim Bar-Lev), Ellie Piercy (Shir Shapiro), Camille Cottin (Lou Kaddar),Lior Ashkenazi (David ‘Dado’ Elazar), Rotem Keinan (Zvi Zamir), Rami Heuberger (Moshe Dayan); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Michael Kuhn, Nicholas Martin, Jane Hooks; New Native Pictures/Bleecker Street; 2023- USA-in English, Hebrew, Arabic)

“This is not a flattering portrayal of Golda, but an indecisive one.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

American filmmaker Guy Nattiv (“Skin”/”Magic Men”) directs this informative but limited docudrama on the hard-nosed but soft-spoken Israeli prime minister, Golda Meir, played excellently by Helen Mirren (made to look like her with prosthetic additions & makeup of a weathered face).

Golda is the grandmother, born in the Ukraine and raised in Milwaukee, who served as the Israeli prime minister during the three-week 1973 Yom Kippur War, led by Egypt and a coalition of Arab states (including Syria), who sprung a surprise attack to retake control of the Sinai Peninsula after Israel seized it six years earlier. Though suffering great losses, the Israeli’s were triumphant. But after the war Golda was investigated by her government if such losses were necessary (which took away some of the luster from her role as the country’s savior). The war came 4 years into the Labor Party member’s term of office (she served from 1969-1974), and her strong leadership during the conflict came to be what
Golda’s best noted for.

This is not a flattering portrayal of Golda, but an indecisive one. It shows her as stubborn, a pill-popping chain smoker and someone with only enough historical insight and sociopolitical awareness to get by in her leadership role.

The film’s chief fault is that it remains too detached emotionally from Golda , as it instead fills the screen with endless boardroom briefings and behind-the-scenes diplomacy.

It shows her warily but successfully dealing with the American Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger (Liev Schreiber), serving at the time of Watergate (backing Israel but worried about antagonizing Syria and their oil), and her lively dealings with her own war hero, the Defense Minister Moshe Dayan (Rami Heuberger).

Screenwriter Nicholas Martin more or less focuses on Meir as a tactician and not so much as a real person wrestling with her difficult job, her loneliness and the lymphoma she would die from at the age of 80.

It’s moderately successful (mostly because of Mirren), but could have been better realized if it went into more depth about what Golda was going through during those tense times at war and told more about her personal life.

It played at the Berlin Film Festival.