Israeli spy thriller is taut, suspenseful

Neta Riskin and Golshifteh Farahani in the Israeli thriller ‘Shelter.’

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Israeli writer director Eran Riklis builds upon the success of his previous films “The Syrian Bride” and “The Human Resources Manager,” with “Shelter,” based on a short story titled “The Link” by Shulamith Hareven.  

“Shelter” stars Neta Riskin as Naomi, a Mossad agent assigned to come back from a sick leave for a “babysitting” job—protecting Mona (Golshifteh Farashani) a beautiful Lebanese spy, who is on a Hezbollah hit list for betraying some of her former colleagues in the group.

Lior Ashkenazi, one of Israel’s most highly regarded actors, appears as Gad, the Mossad officer who recruits Naomi for her challenging two-week assignment in Hamburg, Germany.

Mona, the Lebanese woman, is about to undergo identity changing plastic surgery, and the Mossad wants to be sure she is being looked after and monitored to prevent her from escaping or being found out and captured and killed.


Naomi and Mona—whose very names sound like variants of one another—are forced into an intimacy of the kind that occurs in “Stockholm Syndrome” situations.  They are forced to make do with one another for company and in time they become friends—or even more. 

Lebanon is a microcosm of the entire chaotic Middle East. During its raging 15-year civil war, various ethnic and religious groups would collaborate and then turn against one another. It became, like the present war in Syria, a “war against all,” in which nothing was certain except the constant danger of being captured and tortured or being found out and killed.

“Shelter” combines the spy-thriller energy of a Daniel Silva novel like “House of Spies” with a white-knuckled suspense of two women who are trapped into forming a supportive relationship under the most trying circumstances.

This is a must-see at the 2018 Jewish Film Festival.