Historical fictitious works are aplenty, some based on actual events and others, not quite. The Water Diviner is one such film; supposedly based on true events from the Battle of Gallipoli between Australia and Turkey during World War I in the early 1900s. Directed by and starring Russell Crowe, The Water Diviner is the Australian actor’s debut feature, and one that appears to be a slipshod attempt at filmmaking in a rush to get it released soonest.
The story follows grieved farmer and water diviner Joshua Connor (Crowe), whose three sons served with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) at the Battle of Gallipoli and have been presumed dead. Connor’s wife Eliza (Jacqueline McKenzie), unable to accept their death, commits suicide. Connor then promises and takes it upon himself to bring his sons’ bodies to be buried with their mother at home.
With this goal in mind, Connor embarks on a solo journey to Turkey in hopes of finding at least one of his three sons’ remains. As such, most of the film takes place in a hotel in Istanbul, where Connor is en route to Gallipoli and is taken care of by its owner, widow Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko). While Ayshe is adamant that Connor’s search will be futile, her son Orhan (Dylan Georgiades) decides to acquaint himself with the foreigner. With this closeness, Ayshe slowly warms herself to Connor and offers some advice.
Narratively, The Water Diviner is quite a mess. The plot jumps erratically between wartime, current events and flashbacks. Just when you try to connect the dots at one point, the film diverts into another period without warning. Some scenes also seem unnecessary, for they serve no true purpose to the story. The pacing of the film is as messy as its other aspects: the first half of the film drags on for too long, and when things finally pick up in the second half, it’s a little too late.
Thankfully, Crowe’s own performance is the sole saving grace of his own film. His persona as a father in desolation is believable, and this eventually helps him find solace in the company of Ayshe and her son. However, the ending of Connor having found romance with Ayshe feels cliché, even forced. Hence, The Water Diviner is recommended only if you’re a huge fan of Crowe.
The Water Diviner opens 7th May 2015.
Directed by: Russell Crowe
Genre: Drama, War
Running time: 111 minutes