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:: Walk On Water

One of the great joys of independent cinema is that simply by its existence you are guaranteed of a genuine alternative to Hollywood’s sausage factory. Admittedly, this can sometimes be a completely baffling experience, especially when fringe filmmakers over indulge themselves in pretentious art house fare that is just as unsatisfying as any pumped up blockbuster. Often the best result for the movie is when the filmmaker can combine the two successfully - cinematic brains and brawn - so that the end result is a smart movie told well. Walk on Water is a fairly successful attempt at such a marriage, deftly walking a tight rope of cultural and racial taboos whilst simultaneously delivering a compelling thriller storyline.

When we are first introduced to Eyal (Lior Ashkenazi), a state-hired Mossad assassin, he is living a life of muted existence. He goes about his job efficiently and without emotion. In the opening minutes we see him execute a man in front of his young son without a moment of hesitation. When he experiences a personal tragedy it barely registers on his face. He is someone who is not just driven by his job but trapped by it. He is next assignment is to befriend a German brother and sister, Axel (Knut Berger) and Pia (Carolina Peters) in order to find out the location of their Nazi war criminal grandfather. Posing as an Israeli tour guide he gains their trust, but finds their idealism and liberal beliefs at odds with his black and white view of the world. Axel, with his mix of compassion and naiveté, forces Eyal to confront his own prejudices towards those who are perceived to be enemies of Israel.

To hear German, Israeli and Palestinian characters talk openly about the past and present conflicts without political rhetoric is truly fascinating. These are the issues faced by people today and the dialogue is at once brave and painfully honest. How do today’s German youth feel about their brutal history? What happens when you put a human face to terrorism? Walk on Water does occasionally stray into melodrama, but it never preaches or claims to have all the answers. This is a great example of cinema that takes you into unfamiliar territory with skill and intelligence and gives you plenty to think about once the credits roll.