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The Water Diviner Movie Review (2015 DVD and On Demand)

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The Water Diviner
The Water Diviner

The Water Diviner Movie Review (by JohnnyTwoToes of the Movie Slackers)

Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner is his directorial debut, and as a director he shows promise but this film is a hit and miss affair. Some scenes are shot with extraordinary care and beauty still, there are others in which the plot elements get lost behind the soap opera of a standard love story.

It is just after World War I. Australia and the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) have reconciled, somewhat, even though the British and Greeks are still trying to carve up the country amongst themselves. Connor (Crowe) is an Australian father of three sons who went to fight and may or may not have been killed at the massacre of Gallipoli. They all have been declared dead, but no bodies have been found or returned to their home. Connor is a farmer and has an amazing knack for finding water deep within the ground that he can use to build wells and water his crops. “You can find water, but you can’t find your own sons!” shouts his wife Lizzie (Jacqueline McKenzie).

When another tragedy happens, Connor decides it is time to find his sons, alive or dead, no matter what. He travels to Turkey and begins his search. The British are not very helpful. The Australians want to find who they can and leave the rest behind as a resting place for those who cannot be identified. The Turks don’t care with the exception of Major Hassan (Yilmaz Erdogan) who seems taken back with pity for Connor’s plight. When he is asked why he wants to help this stranger find his sons when there are lots of other fathers who have lost sons in this war, his response is short but goes to the heart of the story, “He’s the only father that has come.”

The Water Diviner then decides it was not enough to focus on that aspect of the story. It then puts Connor in a hotel where a little boy, Orhan (Dylan Georgiades) is patiently waiting for his father to return, as well. The boy’s mother, Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko) of course, is a beautiful woman who just happens to work at the hotel Connor is staying. She knows her husband is dead but cannot bring it upon herself to tell her son. He holds onto hope. She has been promised to the owner of the hotel, Omer (Steve Bastoni) in marriage after the mourning period is over. She seemed okay with this until she meets the roguishly handsome Connor. Of course, she is repulsed by him, at first since he represents the men that killed her husband, but what do you want to bet she softens towards him? What do you want to bet, by the film’s end these two are going to be in love?

Normally, the love story would not bother me, but in The Water Diviner, it is written so plainly and they have very little chemistry. Crowe and Kurylenko are excellent actors, but Andrew Anastasios and Andrew Knight’s script never lets them interact in a meaningful way. They simply gaze into each other’s eyes and do a lot of staring. Their conversations about the culture surrounding Ayshe’s predicament is told in standard fashion. The hotel owner suspects there is something amiss and reacts in routine movie fashion by hiring goons to beat Connor until he agrees to leave. Connor’s only ally is the Turkish Major Hassan, Hassan’s Sergeant Jemal (Cern Yilmaz) and briefly, an Australian Lt. Col. Hughes (Jai Courtney).

The Water Diviner is quite effective in its cinematography and Crowe knows where to place the cameras as well as framing many beautiful shots. The cinematography by Andrew Lesnie is simply stunning. But when it comes to the story, the film sputtered along. In addition to the love story (which I did not buy), there are numerous battle flashbacks that I found unnecessary, scenes of his own boys suffering which drag on for far too long, more battle sequences with the Greeks, an obligatory scene in which Connor teaches the Turks about Cricket, oh and he is still searching for his sons.

The drama works to a point, but some elements are so heavy handed that the more compelling plot points are reduced to nothing more than after thoughts in many scenes. The acting is excellent from everyone, yes, even Jai Courtney has turned in an excellent performance. I have long been a criticizer of Mr. Courtney’s acting but I am PLEASED to announce he does a fine job in this film. David Hirschfelder’s score is a deeply moving and effective.

There is a lot to like about The Water Diviner. The film is ambitious and I can see Crowe as an up and coming director. He does a lot that is right in this film, but the film focuses on too many tired plot elements and lets the more compelling aspects of the film kind of floundering in the back round. The history of the Gallipoli campaign deserves a little more than to be used as a plot gimmick for a mundane love story and a convoluted war drama.

The Water Diviner- Rated R for war violence, gore and language

The Water Diviner- Run Time is 112 minutes

The Water Diviner Movie Review (by JohnnyTwoToes of the Movie Slackers)