The movie's main character is Eyal (Lior Ashkenazi), a stoic killer who works for the Israeli government. Though he is still excellent at his job, he's having personal problems. Sensing that he needs some time to regain his footing, Eyal's boss assigns him to find an elderly Nazi officer. Eyal dismisses the assignment as unnecessary -- the officer is close to death -- but his boss is adamant: "I want to get him before God does." The Nazi's whereabouts are unknown, but his adult grandchildren are in Israel. Pia (Caroline Peters) is working on a kibbutz, and her schoolteacher brother Axel (Knut Berger) is visiting from Berlin. Eyal poses as Axel's tour guide, while the recording device in Pia's dorm covers what he misses.
For Eyal, the mission teaches him some life lessons, as the homophobic, Israeli killer bonds with Axel, a gay, gregarious German. The movie's strongest part, how Eyal willingly becomes a friend to someone he's probably been taught to hate, is where everything unravels, both from a plot and common sense perspective. Think about it: How could Eyal, who one would imagine has a strong sense of what's going on, not know Axel is gay; especially when he talks about his preference for uncircumcised penises?
The friendship also brings Walk on Water into familiar territory. As the two men grow closer, Eyal's killer instincts soften, and he wonders about his commitment. This angle has been recycled for over 10 years: Pulp Fiction, The Professional, Gross Pointe Blank, Amores Perros. In Walk in Water that transition lacks impact because director Eytan Fox doesn't commit to the storyline, or any storyline. He throws in asides about the suicide attacks in Israel, the Palestine/Israeli conflict, and Nazi guilt, but it feels as if it's done to score points with those who read The New York Times and watch PBS. The mellowing killer angle has the same feel, only this time it's for the moviegoers who like their independent films with a dark suit and sunglasses. Also, there's a romance development involving Pia -- who gets little screen time compared to the two male leads -- that's randomly thrown in the movie's final scene.
What keeps Walk on Water from sinking are the performances of Berger and Ashkenazi, who don't act to the film's shifts in tone, but consistently act like two men at an impasse. They want to be friends, but can all of their ideological baggage and prejudices be set aside? When Fox focuses on this uncomfortable human conflict, the movie achieves the relevance he's aches to attain.
The DVD includes a making-of featurette.
Run time: 103 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 18th March 2004
Box Office USA: $2.5M
Distributed by: Roadside Attractions
Production compaines: Lama Films, United King Films
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Fresh: 54 Rotten: 21
IMDB: 7.5 / 10
Director: Eytan Fox
Producer: Amir Harel
Screenwriter: Gal Uchovsky
Starring: Lior Ashkenazi as Eyal, Knut Berger as Axel Himmelman, Caroline Peters as Pia Himmelman, Gideon Shemer as Menachem, Carola Regnier as Axel's Mother, Hanns Zischler as Axel's Father, Ernest Lenart as Alfred Himmelman
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