Why 'Golda' Completely Failed to Impress
A much-anticipated biopic about Golda Meir, the first and only female prime minister of Israel, disappointed so many viewers. Here's an alternative, much more compelling narrative for the film.
We all (or at least, I) waited so long for the first modern, English-language biopic of an Israeli figure, against the vivid backdrop of Judaism and Zionism, to come to life.
Leading up to the film’s festival and then theatrical release, the filmmakers sporadically published a few excerpts, showing a complete makeover of Helen Mirren as Golda Meir, the gracefulness of the Academy Award-winning actress transformed into the grittiness of Israel’s first and only female prime minister.
But after the film recently debuted, it was — as the kids say — all sizzle and not very much steak.
One notable writer in a Hebrew-language article mocked the movie, saying: “Despite rich cinematic moments, ‘Golda’ just sucks. The film is overly preoccupied with technical matters, and the drama and heart are lost.”
Other critics called it “lifeless” and claimed the filmmakers were oddly hyper-focused on Meir’s habit of chain-smoking.
“As a drama about the Yom Kippur War, this film is bafflingly dull,” one reviewer wrote. “As a portrait of Golda Meir, Israel’s prime minister at the time, it’s even worse.”
“It’s not clear why smoking is so important to the filmmakers,” another critic noted.
To be fair, this is not the first time a biopic about an enigmatic figure failed to impress. “Jobs,” a 2013 film based on Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, was so bad that other filmmakers made a second one called “Steve Jobs” which debuted two years later.
However, unlike the biopics about Jobs, as well as many others whose storylines span several years of the given character’s life, “Golda” mainly centers around a few weeks — in and around the 1973 Yom Kippur War. How can you possibly tell such a convoluted person’s story in such a microscopic timeframe?
Perhaps the film’s budget contributed to this misstep. A quick Google search suggested that “Golda” was made for $29 million, but then again, “Steve Jobs” was made for $30 million. “The Social Network,” concentrated on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, was made for $40 million, and Ridley Scott’s new movie about Napoleon came with a cool $170-million allowance.
To truly understand Golda Meir’s remarkable story, we have to start from her childhood, which the film “Golda” blatantly ignores.