In this multi-layered spy film, director Fox successfully takes on some serious issues, from Israeli sexual politics to the Holocaust. Eyal is a Mossad agent assigned to befriend the grandchildren of a Nazi who escaped Germany 60 years ago. “I want to get him before God does,” Eyal’s commander tells him. There is an intriguing cultural justification for this revenge, which the film deconstructs rather than exploits. The Holocaust haunts Eyal and the young Germans, but the film portrays it as an unhealthy abstraction in their lives. The narrative is structured around Eyal’s repressed emotions, a trait depicted as peculiarly Israeli. Axel’s homosexuality becomes a catalyst to Eyal’s growth, and sexual ambiguity elevates his emotional complexity, but also muddles him. When Axel takes a Palestinian to bed, an obviously-jealous Eyal rages, cursing Arabs.
The film wisely only dangles this homoerotic tension, but an absurdly gift-wrapped epilogue undermines the film’s sustained complexity. Still, Walk on Water ties together the troubled elements of the Israeli national character: the specter of the Holocaust, Arab conflict, and the hyper-masculinity bred from a culture perpetually at war.