The Water DivinerCultureCinemaMovie reviews
Russell Crowe has become the latest Hollywood big shot to try his hand at directing, and, as it turns out, he’s actually pretty good at it. His new film, The Water Diviner, follows one man’s quest to find his sons, who died during the Battle of Gallipoli in World War One. As plots go, this search is fairly standard sentimental nonsense; it’s heart-wrenching, yes, but by no means original. What sets this movie apart, however, are all of the things going on around this journey. The tentative romance of Ayshe, a hotel owner from Istanbul, certainly has its part to play in the story, but more important is Joshua Connor’s friendship with Major Hasan, the man who led the charge against his sons in the Battle of Gallipoli.
Set against the rumblings of the Greco-Turkish war, the feature has some surprisingly insightful moments. Though much of the symbolism is heavy-handed and a little on the nose at times, the discussion of war and morality is engaging and sincere.
The Water Diviner is by no means perfect: the 20-or-so minutes it takes to introduce Crowe’s character, Connor, is quite frankly awful. The shots are clumsy, the cinematography is largely unimaginative and there are far too many lingering close-ups and heartfelt sighs. Once Connor reaches Turkey however, things take a dramatic turn for the better.
The natural beauty of Turkey and the Australian outback, along with the bright colours and outfits, lend the film a certain visual appeal, offset wonderfully by the dark and grimy war flashbacks. There is no glory to be had from war in this piece; the flashbacks are an unflinching look at the messiness, pain and indignity that it brings.
Though it may not be the most narratively complex of stories, and many of the tales told are well-worn and familiar, the film is nonetheless highly enjoyable. There’s romance, laughter, action and more than a few tear-jerking moments. For a directorial debut, The Water Diviner is an excellent piece of cinema.
The Water Diviner is released nationwide on 3rd April 2015.
Watch the trailer for The Water Diviner here: