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Russell Crowe’s directional debut has him star as an Australian farmer in 1919 who travels to Gallipoli to find the sons he lost in the Great War. The title The Water Diviner refers to his character’s ability to track down water in what appear to be deserts in his home country.
This title also has a second meaning relating to the man’s quest for his children, in that it can only be through some divine intervention that he could find his children.
Speaking of divine intervention, because a considerable amount of this film takes place in tumultuous post-war Turkey, elements of Islam have to be shown. Unlike in a number of war related movies in recent years, I’m happy to say that this religion is treated with some level of respect and dignity.
Another excellent element of this film is the emotional punch of a number of the moments. There are a couple of moments that Crowe allowed to play out very naturally and it worked so well.
I was also impressed by the “romantic sub-plot” which thankfully did not end up becoming romantic. This relationship is between Crowe’s character and a Turkish woman (played by Olga Kurylenko) who lost her husband in the same battle he lost his sons. I say “thankfully” as these two share enough of a connection through the love of friendship that grows between them that introducing elements of romance, just because they are attractive people of opposite sex would have dampened the drama.
Crowe should be proud for directing his first film so excellently. The only issues I have with his direction are simply nit-picks of style (for example the use of time, event and location indicating titles at various points) and some problems with the visual effects in the reasonably good opening scene showing the final morning of the Battle of Gallipoli.
Another issue I had at first glance is with the nature of the divine way in which the man finds water and attempts to find his sons. He explains his method of “feeling for the water” in a silent montage scene that I did not particularly care for. I thought at first that if he did explain to us the way he found the water, it would make his miracle based strategy for finding his kids easier to stomach.
However, as I thought more about it, this is a cynical man who has lost faith in his God yet not in his sons or his own will. That is a pretty deep piece of characterisation I must say. And if we were to hear of any scientific reason for his water finding gift, we’d lose some of his duality, battling between the harshness of the excellently captured chaos of the post WW1 period and the divine.
All in all this is a very good film about the love of a father for his children.
N.B. Don’t watch this film’s trailer. It spoils way too much.
Recommended Scenario: When you want to see a man’s odyssey to save the ones he cares about when all around him is the remains of destruction.
If what I have written tells you that you would like this film, you can book tickets to see it at your local Cineworld here.