Film Review – The Water Diviner (2014)

Water Diviner - postTitle – The Water Diviner (2014)

Director – Russell Crowe (feature debut)

Cast – Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko, Yilmaz Erdogan, Jai Courtney, Ryan Corr, Isabel Lucas, Megan Gale

Plot – Farmer and recently widowed Conner (Crowe) makes his way to Turkey in the seemingly impossible pursuit of finding out where his 3 boys were buried after their deaths in the battle of Gallipoli during World War 2. With help from kindly locals Ayshe (Kurylenko) and former soldier Major Hasan (Erdogan), Conner soon finds out that there’s a possibility his oldest son Art (Corr) may still be alive somewhere in the war torn country.

 “There is no such a thing as before the war here”

Review by Eddie on 25/03/2015

For a man who has worked with some of the most accomplished and respected directors in the industry, from Ridley Scott, Ron Howard, Peter Weir and Michael Mann just to name a few, you’d expect Australia’s (although it should really be New Zealand’s) very own Russell Crowe to have learnt a trick or two in the art of directing but sadly his debut The Water Diviner suffers from some uninspired and at times amateurish direction that halts any of its power it may have otherwise possessed.

A huge hit here in Australia, with box office receipts of well over 10 million dollars, a huge feat here for a locally made film and with success at local industry awards, it’s abundantly clear that the Water Diviner struck a chord with both audiences and critics alike. From this it’s suffice to say that Crowe was obviously onto something in setting his story in the oft spoken about and patriotic battle of Gallipoli and the aftermath it would have on the Australian populace. In saying this though the film which is inspired by real events, fails to emotionally engage or resonate on anything more than a lower level, a judgement that can be based around Crowe’s uninvolving directional style and a film style that suffers badly from countless and often unwarranted tonal shifts.

It really feels like the Water Diviner had suffered an identity crisis in its development stages and no one was sure enough on how to fix it. We get a family drama, a love story, a few war set pieces, some politics and some cricket bat’s being put to good use, but what we don’t get is any of these becoming engaging in their own right. Just as one element of the film may be set to take hold of you and keep you glued to the screen, it disappears, only to be taken over by some awkward loving glances, a beat down with a Christian cross or a chase through a crowded Turkey set street. With so many things going on it’s hard to feel much towards any of the characters and while Crowe is his usual gruff self, there’s not a lot to write home about in regards to the acting states, although a moustached Jai Courtney, an underused Ryan Corr and Yilmaz Erdogan do have moments that suggest there was more to do with all their respective characters.

The Water Diviner tries hard to be many things, a targeting at a mass market appeal that worked wonders for its financial success at local cinemaplexes and will no doubt work wonders for its shelf life in rental stores and in local’s homes, fans that love nothing more than some patriotic tinged locally produced goodies. For fans of well-made cinema however, this is a hugely disappointing and only barely acceptable debut by Crowe, that suggests he has a long way to go before he reaches the heights of the directors his worked for.

2 games of train cricket out of 5

12 responses to “Film Review – The Water Diviner (2014)

  1. Hmmm I’m not a big Crowe fan and the trailers for this were as uninspiring as your review makes it sound.

    • Hey Abbi, this one was a real let down. I was not overly keen on seeing it but after hearing so many audience members talk it up and it’s big haul at the Box Office I was expecting way more than this. Felt like a glorified TV movie.

  2. I saw this with really low expectations and came out thinking it was not as bad as I expected. You are right the direction was the weakest point, some obvious foreshadowing, some key moments feeling very forced. It’s strength though was showing the complexity of the issues from Australian, British and especially Turkish point of view. I believe it also did well in Turkey, even opened at #1 there. But I wouldn’t see it again, or recommend it to anyone. PS – it is a little funny how Rus can’t get Aussie citizenship, our attitude in NZ is, well, you are welcome to him!

    • Ha yeh buddy I read that today that his been knocked back a few times lol, maybe it’s due to his bad guy persona and phone throwing attitude. Glad you enjoyed the flick mate.

  3. You are lucky to have gotten this movie so early.. it’s another month till we get it here.. though being a local film for you all I guess that makes sense. Is it bad that even though I see by your review it’s probably not that good..I still REALLY want to see it. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Top 10 Films – Russell Crowe | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

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