Israeli men ' you can't live with 'em, you can't live without 'em, but maybe, just maybe, you can change 'em. That seems to be the broader message of Eytan Fox's Walk on Water, which takes not just any Israeli man but a Mossad agent who kills for a living and tries to nudge him from inhuman to human. Lior Ashkenazi's Eyal is capable of administering a lethal injection to an alleged Hamas terrorist while the man is on an outing with his wife and child. But a death in Eyal's own family gets him assigned to a case that may unearth a long-buried need for affection. Expected to take it easy for a while, Eyal's told to pose as the personal tour guide for a young German man (Knut Berger) who's come to Tel Aviv to visit his sister (Caroline Peters), a member of a kibbutz. Their grandfather, wouldn't you know, was a Nazi war criminal ' still alive, it turns out. And Eyal's job is to find out how Mossad can get its hands on him.
A routine, even boring, assignment, but Eyal's interactions with Axel, a gay man who's as soft and warm as Eyal is hard and cold, chip away at prejudices that have allowed Eyal to sleepwalk through his life ' prejudices that link up with Israel's own prejudices against gays, Palestinians, Germans. Fox, who took on the Israeli military in his 2003 film, the don't-ask-do-tell Yossi & Jagger, isn't afraid to ask tough questions of the Jewish homeland, but he's also savvy enough to complicate the answers to those questions. As its title suggests, Walk on Water is a little heavy-handed when it comes to Christian symbolism. (Axel, when we first meet him, is wearing a T-shirt that says "The Miracle Worker" on it.) And it develops a pretty bad case of the implausibles as it goes along. But the actors carry us past our reservations ' especially Ashkenazi, who manages to show us just how naÃve a government-sanctioned assassin can be.