Eyal (Lior Ashkenazi) is a sophisticated killer working for the Israeli secret service. After a successful mission in Istanbul, Turkey he is heading back home to Tel Aviv where his beautiful wife awaits him. Upon arrival at his apartment however he discovers her dead body next to a quickly scribbled note reading "You kill everything that comes close to you". Visibly shattered but determined to continue his work for the secret service Eyal is ordered to locate and eliminate an aging Nazi war criminal who has apparently returned home to Germany after years of exile in Argentina. Knowing very little about his target Eyal goes to a kibbutz on the outskirts of Tel Aviv where the granddaughter of the German lives quietly in peace. Eyal is soon informed that Axel (Knut Berger), the grandson of the German war criminal, is also arriving in town apparently looking to convince his sister to return back to Germany and celebrate their father's birthday. Eyal quickly befriends Axel and his sister attempting to gather as much information about their grandfather as possible. After a night out in the city he is rather surprised to discover that Axel is gay and perhaps a tad unsure whether or not to believe that the two siblings are unaware of their grandfather's whereabouts. What follows up is the story of two men attempting to reevaluate everything that they have deemed worth living as well as their struggle to outgrow the societies they belong to.
Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Eytan Fox (Yossi & Jagger) this relatively recent Israeli-Swedish production fails to impress despite some good performances and a rather intriguing plot. In fact, it has been a long time since I saw a film that relied on so many clichés, both cultural and political, that in a manner of minutes destroyed what otherwise could have been a decent story. Visibly influenced by Neil Jordan's The Crying Game (1992) where an assassin gets closer to the family member of his potential target and is forced to rediscover his own identity amidst some homosexual overtones Walk on Water is a straightforward, predictable, yet rather pretentious film.
From the "provocative" encounter between Axel and a gay Palestinian who he meets in a local dance club and the manner he is addressed by Eyal, to whether or not today's generation of Germans is responsible for what their country did in the past, to the similar inability of older Jews to outgrow their political skepticism, to the purely cultural differences which Eyal encounters on his trip to Germany, Walk On Water tackles too many issues at the same time without convincingly addressing them. What is even more unfortunate is the fact that the film unwillingly gravitates around being a political thriller, a social drama, and a transparent relationship story, without persuasively deciding what it aspires to be. As a result Walk On Water resembles a hastily put together late night production often seen on cable networks. Even the tiny quote on the DVD cover of this release reading He was trained to hate, until he met his enemy would add a sizeable smile on the faces of those that actually decide to give Walk On Water a try.
Regardless of the critical acclaim Walk on Water has received I am fairly unimpressed with this film mainly due to its flaw story and a disappointing finale. There are a number of loopholes which the story regretfully tolerates affecting an overall impressive cast of actors. It is worth pointing out the excellent Lior Ashkenazi who appears to be the only worthy addition in an exceedingly ambitious project lacking in both style and substance. Director Eytan Fox is certainly to be applauded for his daring vision of a film where so many controversial issues collide but the final product is obviously more than disappointing.
How Does the DVD Look?
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, mastered in high-definition, and enhanced for widescreen TV's Walk On Water generally speaking offers a good and acceptable print. Colors are well-handled, contrast appears rather well during both night and day scenes, and there was no visible print damage that I noticed. Edge enhancement is visible in a few scenes (esp. during Eyal's trip to Dead Sea) but was not overly distracting to me. Overall, this is a satisfying DVD presentation that should please fans of the film. (*Please note that all screen captures are media-shots and are not directly taken from this DVD release).
How Does the DVD Sound?
Walk On Water comes with a 5.1 mix of German, Hebrew, and English (all spoken in the film) that generally serves the film rather well. There is a good amount of traditional Israeli music as well as some classical music that is well mixed. Dialog is easy to follow and is mostly well separated from the supporting soundtrack. There are no audio dropouts and the overall presentation of this DVD is satisfying.
Aside from a gallery of trailers for other SONY Pictures releases the only other "extra" is the chapters selection menu. The cover of the DVD boldly announces a "Making-Of" featurette but such is nowhere to be found on this DVD release.
Despite the fact that Walk On Water was shown and praised during the Berlin Film Festival, Boston Jewish Film Festival, and the Toronto Film Festival I found it to be dull, pretentious, and tackling way too many controversial issues at the same time. The film often presents its audience with scenarios that if offered in a Hollywood-made production will force viewers to shake their heads in disbelief. Which really is a shame as Lior Ashkenazi is an actor with an enormous potential that I certainly enjoyed. RENT IT.