In his directorial debut The Water Diviner, Russell Crowe stars as a father who travels to Turkey after the Battle of Gallipoli to find his three missing sons. The movie is inspired by true events and the battle is linked to the emergence of both Australia and New Zealand as independent nations and is commemorated every year on Anzac Day, April 25th. Not surprisingly the movie is a hit with Russell’s’ fellow Australians, having been released there back in December 2014. It has already won three Australian Academy Awards including Best Picture. It will be interesting to see how it fares with the European and American markets.
The screenplay is by Andrew Knight and Andrew Anastasios. Crowe plays the role of Josuha Connor a farmer with the gift of water divining. He has lost his wife and has made a promise to her to find their sons, Art, Edward and Henry and bring them home. The inference that his water divining skills might help find his sons is a bit of stretch but his characters determination make allowances for it and you let it pass.
Set on keeping his promise he travels to Constantinople where he meets Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko), a muslim woman who runs a hotel. He forms an unlikely bond with her and her son who help him find passage to Gallipoli. There is a touch of romance between the two but it’s more a subplot which you could say is not entirely relevant to the movie. More than likely thrown in to balance the movies more harrowing scenes from the battlefields.
Arriving on the Gallipolli beachhead he encounters Lieutenant Colonel Cyril Hughes (Jai Courtney a fellow Australian) who is in charge of the Imperial War Graves Unit, charged with trying to identify soldiers remains. Joshua Connor’s finds help with his search in the form of a Turkish Officer, General Hasan (played by the engaging Yilmaz Erdogan) who says he remembers his son Art and believes he was captured and sent to Istanbul. Together they set out to find him, on an adventure wrought with numerous challenges including a confrontation with the Greeks.
The movie deals with the legacy of war and the sense of the loss that comes after it. It doesn’t glorify it with the sheen of Hollywood gloss that we see so much of and takes the stance of showing how soldiers on both sides of the battlefield suffered. Overall I’d give the movie 3.5 out of 5. It’s an emotional piece with some strong performances. The locations are breathtaking and the story, while slightly limp in some places does carry you along with it. Check out the trailer below. The Water Diviner is in movie theatres now.