Flix at :48: Golda
One of the biggest indicators of an Oscar bait movie is a biopic about an influential political leader from the past. Examples of this include The King's Speech (2010), The Iron Lady (2011), Lincoln (2012), and Darkest Hour (2017). The latest Oscar bait biopic is the historical drama Golda starring Helen Mirren (The Good Liar, 2019) as the famous Jewish politician Golda Meir who served as Israel's first, and only, female prime minister from 1969 - 1974. As a dignified portrayal of leadership and tense geo-political relations, I would categorize Golda as a BORE ALERT!
The film starts out with such promise as it focuses on the 20-day period of the Yom Kippur war when both Egypt and Syria attacked Israel simultaneously in October of 1973. Focusing on one formative event in Golda Meir's career, instead of her entire life, is smart and helps this film feel focused...almost like a high stakes governmental thriller. But the English screenwriter Nicholas Martin (Florence Foster Jenkins, 2016) doesn't infuse enough drama into any conversations. The range of emotions is not dynamic enough. The emotions that are explored are not nuanced enough or powerful enough.
I don't mean to say the dialogue and the acting are not realistic or relatable. Those parts of this film are realistic and relatable. But the Israeli Director, Guy Nattiv (Skin, 2018) presents this whole story with so little gravitas and such a timid energy, it's very difficult to feel any emotional investment. Watching Golda Meir lead military strategy meetings and secretly receive radiation treatments in a hospital for her advancing cancer are moderately interesting in this biopic, but the lack of fervor from the heart or the head left me feeling hugely underwhelmed. Golda Meir is an important 20th century leader, and her life does warrant a film to help audiences learn more about her. But this film is not the one to do it. Helen Mirren gives a consistent performance as the stern, chain-smoking, decisive title character. But Golda will likely only get an Oscar nomination for its makeup.
A few artsy elements, with visual metaphors of dead birds and engulfing smoke, add some thoughtful style to this biopic. But I'm sad this one doesn't have enough fire to grab viewers' attention. It sadly feels like a history lesson delivered in the most reverent library or synagogue. Golda reminds me at least some creative license from the director is important, no matter what real-life story is being told.