“Survival. It may be a synonym for Jewish.” So says Valeria Harper as Golda Meir in this breathless yet stylistically disconnected mock-autobiography of Israel’s first and only female Prime Minister, one of many recent works that represent the ripples cast outward from the dialogue begun in Steven Spielberg’s masterful Munich. One of the formative minds behind the creation of Israel, Meir was born in the former Russian Empire but grew up in the United States, emigrating to Palestine with her husband in 1921 to aid in the foundation of a Jewish state. Golda’s Balcony sees Meir recounting various stages of her political life as if reciting her own memoirs to a closed audience, the performance itself a bold one hindered only by the film’s awkward presentation of this otherwise stunning verbal narrative. Harper acts entirely before a blue screen, which is then used to cast a plethora of digitally altered historical images and videos behind her so as to complement her words at any given moment. The idea intrigues but the execution more appropriately embodies the kind of mind trip aimed for by the likes of Yellow Submarine and Pink Floyd The Wall, making for a most bipolar of viewing experiences. Furthermore, Harper plays not only the titular character, but—while still in character as Meir—performs the parts of various other individuals at any given moment (family and friends, political and government officials of various backgrounds), a silly decision that might have disrupted the entire fabric of the film if it weren’t delivered with such sturdy conviction. Golda’s Balcony can be forgiven for its impracticalities given the insight it provides into the life of one of the 20th century’s most important leaders, as well as its engagement with issues of statelessness and justice that still resound today. Ultimately, though, a successful risk-taking venture it is not.
- AV Productions
- 95 min
- Jeremy Kagan
- William Gibson
- Valerie Harper
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