Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Israeli filmmaker Eytan Fox is one to watch. His first internationally released feature, 2002's Yossi and Jagger (it played theatrically in the U.S. in 2003 and was released on video last year), is a sweet, well-made low-budget film about two Israeli soldiers in love. Much of the film concerns itself with the emotional toll on the men of having to keep their relationship a secret from the world around them. The performances are strong, as is the direction, though the screenplay could use some tightening, and the film itself could benefit from some more time (it clocks in at a mere 65 minutes). Yossi and Jagger spotlit Fox as a director to keep an eye on - and his latest film shows him living up to his promise. Walk On Water (2004, video release 2005) has a much higher budget (obvious from the sets, locations, and the whole look of the film), better acting (particuarly from Israeli Academy Award winner Lior Ashkenazi), more assured direction, and a far better screenplay than its predecessor. This may be one of the best films you see on DVD in 2005.

Walk On Water is a beautifully layered film concerning Eyal (the sensational Ashkenazi), a Mossad hit man given the assignment of befriending a young German, Axel, come to Israel to visit his kibbutzing sister; the German's grandfather is a notorious former Nazi who Eyal's Mossad boss wants killed (as he puts it, "Get him before God does"). Unexpectedly, Eyal becomes friends with Axel (and his sister, Pia), despite his issues with Axel's homosexuality. As the film proceeds, Eyal makes his way across much of Israel, as well as to Germany, while Walk On Water examines the effects that WWII still has on Israelis and Germans today. Fox is becoming a fine storyteller whose films should only get better as he continues his craft, and Walk On Water is a very good film well worth your time.

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