Eyal, an Israeli Mossad agent, is given the mission to track down and kill the very old Alfred Himmelman, an ex-Nazi officer, who might still be alive. Pretending to be a tourist guide, he befriends his grandson Axel, in Israel to visit his sister Pia. The two men set out on a tour of the country during which, Axel challenges Eyal's values.Written by
Sujit R. Varma (with edits by Nelson Ricardo)
The SUV that they ride around in throughout Israel is an "And Rover" since the L is missing off of the hood ornament. See more »
When Eyal visits Menachem's Berlin hotel, a shot down its hall reveals that all the rooms have Mezuzot on the doorframes. At the door to Menachem's room, the only room without a Mezuzah, there is a clearly visible unpainted patch from which the Mezuzah had been removed just for that shot. A Mezuzah is a small box filled with bible passages (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21). Jews put them on the doorframes of houses and other buildings. Their presence reveals that the filmmakers used an Israeli location for that hotel instead of a German one. See more »
[tries to walk on the sea and falls in]
Bravo. You did it.
You don't understand. You can't just come to the Sea of Galilee and start walking on water. If you could, everybody would be doing it. You need to prepare yourself.
And how would you do that? Please enlighten me.
Well, you need to completely purify yourself. Your heart needs to be like it's clean from the inside: no negativity, no bad thoughts.
And then you can walk on water. I'm sure of it.
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Authentic and moving (though, more than slightly Self-righteous)
Sometimes the opening credits predict a great deal about the film itself. Sometimes it's a deliberate decision of the director and sometimes it's a plain business decision. James bond's movies always began with silhouettes of highly attractive women holding guns in a "I'm having a seizure" postures (a long and annoying tradition that stopped only on "Die another day") , Ed Wood films opening credits were presented as epitaffs on graves (indicating that people would see the films over their dead bodies) etc.
This film's credits are pretty conventional, only they are in English. This is more than slightly perplexing since this film is not only shot, mainly, in Israel but also because it deals with a topic that is highly charged and controversial among Israelis, namely, the collaboration with modern day Germany, in light of the not so distant past of the Holocaust.
Eyal (Lior Ashkenazi in a terrific performance) is a Mossad agent, returning from Turkey after an efficient and clean assassination of a Terrorist only to find that during his absence his wife, Iris, committed suicide. Eyal, an obtuse individual who only benefited from it in his work, seems unaffected emotionally by such a tragic loss and the worried powers that be demote him (to his dismay) to gather information about a Nazi criminal that lives a clandestine life in an undisclosed location. Eyal poses as a tour guide for Axel, the Nazi's grandson, visiting his sister in a Kibbutz (a once glorified and now decaying socialist community) after she disengaged herself from her parents.
The "Spying" mission turns soon enough to be a "Roman a clef", a self discovery voyage where Eyal deals with his upbringing in a house of Holocaust survivors and the flaws of his character that made him a first rate assassin but a third rate human being. Axel, the German tourists who starts as Eyal's nemesis (not only because of his origin but also due to his gay tendencies and his merry and merciful personality), ends up as the one who turns Eyal's life around.
The relationship with modern day Germany is still a touchy subject in Israel and will probably remain so for many decades to come. Till this day, many families don't travel to Germany or even buy German products and although I believe that no generation is born with a debt, I never judge those who boycott Germany considering the demons they have to face as a result of the never too distant to be forgotten Holocaust. This movie deals with the dealing of both Israelis and Germans with their past and with each other by the impossible friendship between Eyal and Axel.
The Latin credits, as I said before, are the prophecy for the filmmakers' intention for foreign viewing. It begins with the almost apologetic mentioning that Eyal's assassination "victim" is a terrorist , continues with the too PC and not very plot-essential coexistence with the Israeli-Arab population and the atmosphere of the gay night life.
Moreover, the film conveniently deals with another controversial subject, Palestinian Terror, in a manner that is easier for the European "creative stomach" to digest. At a certain point, its over flown with excessive self-righteousness that is rarely identified in a terror ridden country.
That reservation is the film's only major flaw and, altogether, the collaboration between the writer, Gal Uchovski, and director, Eitan Fuchs, spawns one of the best written and directed Israeli films I came across. Aided with wonderful acting and well constructed plot, this film encounters its major controversial issue bravely and authentically which I assume, atones the writer and driector's failure to do so in its minor one.
8.5 out of 10 in my FilmOmeter.
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