Director: Russell Crowe
Cast: Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko, Jai Courtney, Yilmaz Erdogan
Running Time: 111 min
Special Features: Behind The Scenes
Boldly choosing sincere wartime odyssey The Water Diviner for his directorial debut, Russell Crowe also stars in this tale of faith and redemption, set following the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915.
Following the death of his wife, Australian farmer Connor (Russell Crowe) travels to Turkey to find his three missing sons. While staying in Istanbul, Conner meets hotel manager Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko) and encounters difficulties reaching the trenches of Gallipoli, where he believes his sons’ bodies to be.
The Water Diviner’s leading man gives a great performance, depicting Conner as a strong, dignified man full of regret. As his sprawling journey unfolds, Conner appears genuinely intrigued by this strange land, eager to gain an insight into the people he once thought of as enemies, and it’s a role that suits Crowe.
In his role as director, Crowe also proves largely capable. Working alongside the late cinematography great Andrew Lesnie, Crowe offers up some fantastic visuals, doing justice to the film’s beautiful locales and helping the audience share Conner’s sense of awe.
There is the odd miss-step along the way, but Crowe manages some truly powerful scenes, with one battlefield sequence particularly harrowing. He also handles some of the film’s central themes – of faith, the acknowledgement of losses on both sides and the personal consequences of war – in a way that suggests the material is close to his heart.
An earnest, ambitious film in its early stages, The Water Diviner is at its best in the opening hour, covering a lot of ground while remaining focused on Conner’s family and his mission. This makes it all the more frustrating when a trite, unnecessary romantic subplot is regrettably shoehorned in, tarnishing much of the film’s good work.
In the latter stages, The Water Diviner becomes on a strange mix of wartime drama and domestic melodrama, undermining the character and sombre themes it has worked hard to establish.
Ultimately a film of two halves, The Water Diviner proves to be an exasperating experience. With a poignant narrative, a great performance from Crowe and some beautiful cinematography, the film appears to be onto a winner. However an unfortunate deviation into romantic nonsense skews the focus and damages the lasting impression irreparably.
The Water Diviner is available to on HD download, DVD and Blu-ray today.