Russell Crowe’s directorial debut, “The Water Diviner,” is an epic and inspiring tale of one man’s life-changing journey of discovery. Crowe plays Australian farmer Joshua Connor, who, in 1919, goes in search of his three missing sons, last known to have fought against the Turks in the bloody Battle of Gallipoli. Arriving in Istanbul, he is thrust into a vastly different world, where he encounters others who suffered their own losses in the conflict: Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko), a strikingly beautiful but guarded hotelier raising a child alone; her young, spirited son, Orhan (Dylan Georgiades), who finds a friend in Connor; and Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdoğan), a Turkish officer who fought against Connor’s boys and may be this father’s only hope. With seemingly insurmountable obstacles in his path, Connor must travel across the battle-scarred Turkish landscape to find the truth… and his own peace.
ActorsStarring: Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko, Jai Courtney, Isabel Lucas, Damon Herriman, Ryan Corr, Jacqueline McKenzie, Allen Tiller, Cem Yılmaz, Deniz Akdeniz, Megan Gale, Birol Tarkan Yildiz, Daniel Wyllie, Michael Dorman, Robert Mammone, Canan Ergüder, James Fraser, Steve Bastoni, Salih KALYON, Aidan Liam Smith, Benedict Hardie, Christopher Sommers, Michael Gilmour, Jack Douglas Patterson, Ben Norris, Dylan Georgiades, Ben O'Toole, Fatih Ugurlu, Robert Byron, Ümit Demirbas, Yunus Emre Sogukkanli, Allen Tiller, Paul Chapman, James Elliott, Darren McGuiness, Özcan Özdemir, Pelé, Yılmaz Erdoğan
Now how best to describe this directorial debut of Russell Crowe… A sugary hotchpotch or a melodramatic mishmash?
Connor (Crowe) is the water diviner, an Australian farmer with the gift to find things deep under the soil. At his farm, he uses this rare skill to find water in drought-stricken Victoria. When his three sons join the battle of Gallipoli in 1915 they are presumed dead amongst thousands of other ANZAC soldiers. Guilted into action by his wife, Connor travels to Turkey in 1919 to use his special skill to find the bodies of his sons so he can bring them home for a proper burial.
Besides the premise of water-divining equals body-divining being a bit of a stretch, the script and directing are not very subtle… It goes out of its way in almost every scene to draw an emotion from the audience.
So what can we throw at the audience – let’s see, how about lots of Russell Crowe? But shouldn’t he be behind the camera as director? Nah no worries – this story is so good it will practically direct itself mate. Fair dinkum, then let’s also add a cute little local boy who speaks better english than anyone else in Turkey and adores Russell for no apparent reason. Awesome. Oh – let’s not forget an unlikely love interest who also adores Russell for even less apparent reasons. Ripper Rita.
Now what else? Let’s throw in some battle scenes for extra melodrama. Grouse. And let’s add some action scenes with Turks vs Brits vs Greeks – that should provide opportunities for Russell to be a hero. Ooh I know, let’s let him save the day with a cricket bat. He is an Aussie after all. Cool bananas mate. Oh and while we’re at it, let’s add some more stereotypes – and let’s make sure the Brits look especially silly shall we chaps? And let’s not forget about the score – why don’t we make each scene extra meaningful by adding different music to try and stuff that lump in your throat. Bewdie, that’s a wrap…
There are certainly good parts to the movie, but they get drowned out by the weaker elements. In the end it feels like an overly contrived storyline which is actually trying to be earnest (yep – the movie even opens with ‘Inspired by True Events’….). But it is so superficial and forcibly aiming for the melodrama that you wish someone had had the balls to tell Russell to either be in front or behind the camera but not both.
Not a great way for Australia to commemorate the centennial of the Battle of Gallipoli…