The long-awaited biographical drama Golda finally premiered in theaters on August 17, 2023. Starring Helen Mirren as the legendary Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, this film provides a riveting look at her pivotal leadership during wartime and the personal sacrifices she made. With its stellar direction, acting, and historical accuracy, Golda has quickly become a critical and commercial hit.
Helen Mirren Delivers an Oscar-Worthy Performance
In the lead role of Golda Meir, Dame Helen Mirren turns in what many critics are calling an Oscar-worthy performance. She fully embodies Meir’s steely determination, sharp wit, and quiet dignity. Mirren’s portrayal captures the complexity of this barrier-breaking leader who had to make difficult choices during turbulent times.
Whether commanding the room with her authoritative presence or privately agonizing over sending young soldiers to war, Mirren brings nuance to Meir’s formidable yet vulnerable spirit. Her transformative performance anchors the film and provides its emotional core. Mirren’s work here should position her well come awards season.
Supporting Cast Brings the Era to Life
While Mirren takes center stage, she gets ample support from a talented ensemble cast portraying other historical figures.
Aaron Paul takes on the role of intense military leader and future Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. His arguments with Mirren’s Meir bring tension to their debates over war strategy.
Meanwhile, rising Egyptian star Amir El-Masry portrays charismatic Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Israeli actor Lior Raz chips in an excellent turn as the eyepatch-wearing General Moshe Dayan.
Other standouts include Denis O’Hare as first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Michael Shannon’s stern Henry Kissinger. The accomplished supporting players immerse viewers in Israel’s chaotic 1970s government.
Director Guy Nattiv Brings Craftsmanship to a Historical Epic
In the director’s chair, Guy Nattiv takes on his first major historical drama. The Israeli director demonstrates a strong command of both intimate character scenes as well as large-scale political spectacle.
Nattiv’s thoughtful direction shines through in quiet moments, like Golda sharing her self-doubt with her husband. During sweeping scenes in the Knesset, Nattiv excels at highlighting the grandiosity of Israeli politics.
He handles the complex Middle Eastern tensions and military strategy with nuance. Nattiv’s craftsmanship elevates the film beyond a standard biopic.
Immersive Production Design Transports Audiences to the 1970s
Crucial to Golda’s success is its top-notch production design work vividly recreating 1970s Israel. The film was shot on location in Israel, and the authentic architecture and scenery grounds the story in a specific time and place.
Whether it’s the mid-century modern design of Golda Meir’s home or the stuffy Mapai party headquarters, the lived-in details make history come alive. Iconic locations like the Knesset chamber and Western Wall appear just as they did 50 years ago.
Thoughtful costuming and hair/makeup also help nail the 1970s aesthetic. Golda does the important work of accurately transporting audiences into the past.
Box Office Success Shows Widespread Appeal
Following its August 17, 2023 Israeli premiere, Golda opened wide in America and other international markets on August 25. The film scored an excellent $72 million global opening weekend, including a $24 million domestic launch.
This put Golda comfortably in first place at the box office, dethroning the action flick Bullet Train. Strong word of mouth has fueled the film’s ongoing success. After 7 weeks in theaters, Golda has grossed $198 million worldwide.
The film’s popularity shows biopics centered on strong female leaders have mainstream appeal beyond just history buffs. With Oscar season approaching, Golda’s awards chatter should continue driving robust ticket sales.
Rave Reviews Praise Mirren’s Performance and Historical Accuracy
Critics have showered Golda with praise, leading to its sterling 94% Rotten Tomatoes score. Along with Mirren’s acclaimed performance, reviewers highlighted the film’s vivid depiction of history.
Washington Post: “Helen Mirren utterly transforms in a career-best performance as the formidable Golda Meir. A deeply humanizing portrait.”
Indiewire: “Director Guy Nattiv brings an epically scaled lens to Golda’s intimate personal struggles. The film’s attention to detail makes Israel’s chaotic political climate immersive.”
BBC: “A refreshing biopic that avoids deifying its subject. Instead, Golda insightfully examines the costs of leadership.”
Brings an Overlooked Female Leader to the Forefront
Aside from its critical achievements, Golda represents a major step forward in portraying impactful women leaders on film. Meir’s vital role in Israeli history rarely gets recognized, so this thoughtful depiction of her challenges feels long overdue.
The film compellingly shows how Meir fought to be taken seriously in a male-dominated political system. Women around the world can find inspiration in her determined leadership during crisis.
With awards consideration likely, Golda finally gives this trailblazing female politician her due. Mirren and Nattiv have crafted both an entertaining drama and an insightful character study.