Nissan Shor, whom I know almost nothing about but who appears to be decent and intelligent, wrote a review of sorts about Gal Gadot’s performance in Death on the Nile (2022) for Haaretz: One Line of Dialogue Exposed Gal Gadot’s Limited Acting Abilities.
This is a review of his review.
Notes: I don’t see or like many movies. I have not (yet) seen this rendition of Death outside of a few clips such as the one Nissan commented on. And, as is well known, I am hawkishly pro Gadot!
As for the film, I will eventually see it (because, GG!). It’s a remake, loaded with CGI, and based on Agatha Christie’s 1937 novel of the same name. It’s a good enough book, entertaining, capturing if a little light on meaning. I haven’t seen the 70’s big-screen adaptation either and I am unlikely to. Like most Hollywood movies today, the new version is what it is – a work for the times and the audiences. As I understand it, the release was plagued by problems of the
bio-military pandemic variety and controversy surrounding the life and allegedly odd times of Armie Hammer.
Now, as to GG before I lose interest:
A lot of what Shor writes is right. This isn’t a criticism of criticism. Well, it is, but I’m aiming to explain, expound, and elucidate.
Another thing that is very striking about Gal Gadot is that she simply can’t act. She really can’t. It’s embarrassing. It’s regrettable to have to say this. When Gadot opens her mouth in a movie, the text comes out like gravel, shattering one’s front teeth. It’s not just the accent, which no number of diction lessons can entirely suppress. Gadot is not an American and never will be. English is not her mother tongue, nor her daughter tongue.
I disagree. And, for me, it is (in large part) the accent. Gal has one of the few human voices that I audibly understand easily – regardless of the language she’s speaking. Mother, daughter, whatever – thank God she’s got it. And, with all due respect to a guy who knows more about acting than I do, in my limited appreciation of the craft, Gal certainly can act. Well. Much of my counter-explanation is contained in my 2021 GG Treatise.
If I read her career correctly, GG is stealthily moving from newcomer pop stuff like Justice League, through comedies (Jones, Red Notice) and semi-serious work (Death), towards the great dramatic stuff I think she was ultimately destined for (Irena Sendler, Cleopatra, etc. – time will tell). Again, I want to see what the girl’s got! And again, to me, what she’s already delivered is impressive. She doesn’t write or create the films, nor does she have ultimate authority as to how they’re executed. She just – ahem – plays her part. Previously, I noted that she gave 110% to bring to life lines and scenes that might otherwise drift sleepy or morbid. How, exactly, was she supposed to say, “enough champagne to fill the Nile”?
Another thing I, not being Jewish, don’t completely understand is the Israeli “Sabra export” angle. Nissan is proud of GG. But it appears that something has him confused, almost to the point of self-deprecation – or national/cultural deprecation. It could be that, as many a Gentile has a monolithic thinking complex about Jews and Israel, so to Israelis and Jews have a similar thought process about us and their reception among us.
I do not think GG is herself bothered by any of this. It may have crossed her younger mind, but she’s either used to it now or enjoying it. Natalie Portman isn’t the only (great) Jewish actress in Hollywood. In fact, some have described Hollywood as Jewish-owned and operated. But, it is conceded or concede-able that GG is not and never will be an Anglo-American actress. As with the accent, thank God!
What really sets her apart, which Nissan grasps but either won’t admit or doesn’t understand, is the fact that GG is genuinely different: she’s in but not of the industry.
Gal Gadot is astonishing, in the original sense of the word, not the hackneyed sense of the word. Truly astonishing. It’s no cliché or exaggeration. Her presence shines at a distance. It’s not just her stunning beauty. Many actresses fit the conventional Hollywood model of beauty: the all-American women who know how to pose, some of whom look especially elegant and elitist.
Even these actresses aren’t in the same league as Gal Gadot. She has something the others don’t. It’s hard to define what that quality is: Gadot is outside of time. It’s as if she were hovering a few inches above the ground. It’s no coincidence that she was chosen to play Wonder Woman and then Cleopatra: two characters who wear crowns atop their heads.
Gadot stands out above the multitudes. She doesn’t have royal blood and yet she’s regal.
Bravo! Bravo! All true and then some!
As I have come to understand the phenomenon, Gal fits in with the entertainment world at will and on her limited terms. When she’s “on,” then she is celebrity incarnate. It’s not an act; she just outshines everyone else. She is the elegance of the Golden Era magnified by something else. Otherwise, when she’s not working or “on,” she comes off as anything but Hollywood – just a very smart, based, beautiful, doing great things wife and mother. She’d be the “it” woman of the average middle-class neighborhood street. It’s remarkable that this seemingly-impossible juxtaposition of auras and appearances looks to come naturally. Maybe supernaturally.
So, what is that something else to explain the impossible? As I wrote last year, I think it’s God and the fact that Gal is God’s good servant. I think she’s on a mission. Some of the confusion in Tel Aviv and elsewhere may stem from the oddities of secular versus religious Judaism – without delving into the divergences within and between the secular and the religious factions. On the other side, we Christians happen to have similar muddles. Muslims do too. My only advice is to stop pretending that everyone can and should be all the same and pretending that differences are bad. They’re not. Gal is a perfect example of fitting in without fitting in, being an unassimilated merry addition, and not worrying about the inconsequential consequences. Her popularity attests to the fact ordinary people accept and appreciate all she is and does.
I tire though I could go on and on in multiple directions. In short: GG is better than we (Jews or Gentiles) deserve. She can act. She’s awesome. The end.
PS: Mr. Shor did a heck of a job. I’m ending with praise for his appreciation and professionalism.
PPS: I’ve started a draft of a similar cultural correction with a subject matter I’m much more familiar with. In brief preview summay, in answer to a psuedo-slander: Tolkien’s Drarves are not (stereotypical) “Joooooos.” More, later.
PPPS: Final, final words: Gal. Gadot!