‘Golda’: Complicated Times and a Complicated Woman

War is brutal, no matter how you spin it.

by Adina Bernstein

When facing war, a political leader knows that there will be hard choices to make. They also know that lives will be lost. The new biopic, Golda, follows the late Golda Meir (Helen Mirren) during the Yom Kippur War. She literally and figuratively bears the weight and the future of Israel on her shoulders. If Golda succeeds, the nation will have one more victory to its name. If she fails, the country will very likely cease to exist.


One of the big issues coming out of Hollywood these days is representation. When the trailer for Golda debuted earlier this year, there were questions if Mirren could play the part. She has the age, experience, and gravitas to play Golda. But the issue is that Mirren is not MOT (a member of the tribe).

Known as Jewface, it is when a non-Jewish actor plays a character who is Jewish. Granted, the job of an actor is to play someone else. But given the past (and unfortunately) present use of stereotypes, there is rightly a call for authenticity.

The other film that has brought this problem into the light is the upcoming Leonard Bernstein biopic, Maestro. Bradley Cooper (who is also not MOT) plays the title role. Fitted with a large prosthetic nose to look like Bernstein, there have been many who have criticized the choice of the makeup team and the actor.

The Weight of War

One of the finer aspects of Mirren’s performance was the proverbial weight on her shoulders. In several scenes, she is walking through a hospital corridor. Along the way, she passes bodies that have yet to be buried. As time rolls on and she goes back for continued medical appointments, the number of cadavers starts to rise.

One of the most poignant scenes is when she is in the war room listening to the live feed coming from the front. Director Guy Nattiv flashes between Golda being pulled in by what she is hearing and the machinery that is relaying the messages. The look on her face is pure agony. She knows that many (if not all) of those on the other side will come home only to be buried.

If there was a way to get to victory without sacrificing lives, Golda would have found a way. But that was not an option. The only thing she had to do was to plow through and force the other side to stand down.

Her Humanity Kept Me Involved

My favorite quality that Nattiv, Mirren, and writer Nicholas Martin brought to the role was the character’s humanity. While she strategizes with her generals, her thoughts are with the boys on the field. She feels this, not just as a leader, but as a mother and grandmother.

Golda smoked like a chimney and constantly drank black coffee, despite doctor’s orders and a cancer diagnosis. She also slept poorly and had to be coaxed into bed. Granted, she was the helm of a state and a people whose very existence was being threatened. She was also in her 70s. But even under those circumstances, one’s health should not be put on the back burner.

I found Golda to be moving, powerful, and a reminder that a woman is as capable as a man is of stepping into a leadership role.

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1 comment

Nick Kush September 14, 2023 - 9:17 am

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