Walk on Water (8/10)
by Tony Medley
Eyal (Lior Ashkenazi) is a
Mossad assassin. Heís assigned to find Alfred Himmelman, a Nazi who was
responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews during WWII. He does this
by posing as a tour guide and getting close to Alfredís grandchildren, Pia,
Caroline Peters), who is living in Israel, and Axel (Knut Berger), who is
visiting Pia. Both are pie-in-the-sky idealists, much to Eyalís initial
Director Eytan Fox has told the
story with beautiful cinematography (Tobias Hochstein) of Israel and
Germany. When Axel tries to walk on the Sea of Galilee, we can picture
another time and another place when the Gospels tell us someone actually
did walk on water. Itís made more fascinating by being at the exact
location of the Biblical event. The other locations in the film, the house
in which Axelís parents reside, the Berlin subway, the other Israeli
locations, all add to the realistic atmosphere of the film.
The characters are finely
drawn. Iím no expert on male sensuality, but Ashkenazi looks to me like a
babe magnet if there ever was one. Even if the ladies donít like the
story, they will like looking at this guy, and the film does include some
shots of frontal male nudity.
But the story is well told.
There are no phony car chases or people flying or larger than life vicious
villains, which are the mainstays of American thrillers. This is almost
just a slice of life in which Eyal is looking to get a lead on a villain
from the past by using a pair of nice young people.
Eyal is going through traumas
of his own. Heís not a psychopath, which is the way one usually pictures
assassins. Rather, heís a thoughtful man who is working his way through
some difficult emotions of his own.
Thereís one scene where Fox
blew it. Eyal comes to the defense of some transvestites who are being
attacked in the Berlin subway. He dispatches two of them displaying his
talents for one on one combat. But then one of the thugs grabs Eyal by the
throat and begins choking him. There is a simple self defense maneuver to
break this choke hold that would be automatic for anyone as well trained
as Eyal. But he doesnít use it. He just stands there, allowing himself to
be choked until Axel saves him by jumping on the back of the attacker.
In this appropriately timed,
98-minute film, Fox takes on lots of controversial subjects, like
tolerance for and acceptance of male homosexuality, revenge, and
redemption. Regardless of how you feel about these things, this is an
entertaining movie-cum-thriller that only falls apart with its simplistic,
feel-good climax that is inconsistent with what came before, insults the
intelligence of the audience, and depreciates the fine complexity of the
film. (In English, Hebrew, and German with subtitles)
June 19, 2005