Review: The Water Diviner

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From “Gladiator” and “Noah” to “L.A. Confidential” and “3:10 to Yuma”, Russell Crowe has starred in some of the most critically-acclaimed films of recent times. But can he achieve similar success on the other side of the camera with “The Water Diviner”?

In his directorial debut, Russell Crowe stars as Connor, a grieving farmer who travels to Turkey to try and locate his three missing sons reported missing in action after the Battle of Gallipoli. During his travels, he develops a relationship with Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko) – a Turkish woman who owns the hotel in which he stays.

Inspired by true events, The Water Diviner contains its fair share of well choreographed, stimulating action set-pieces. Such scenes include a highly engaging dust-storm sequence; a flashback to the battle that killed Connor’s sons and a suspenseful sequence in which Connor finds himself in the middle of the crossfire between Turks and the invading Greeks.

It’s a shame the rest of the film doesn’t reach the same standard. In its attempt to come across as a deep and emotive film, addressing issues such as cultural complexity, the pain of war and the need for tolerance in its aftermath, The Water Diviner lacks the depth and detail to take cinemagoers on the emotional rollercoaster it envisages.

Furthermore, Crowe looks severely out of his comfort zone during the romantic sub-plot involving his character and Ayshe. The inclusion of such scenes (presumably to appeal to the mass market) is certainly questionable and they feel highly contrived throughout.

To assist with his debut feature film, Crowe enlisted the help of Andrew Lesnie (“Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”), whose exquisite cinematography propels the story with a vast array of sunsets. This is accompanied by a haunting score from David Hirschfelder (“Australia”), which adds to the ambience of the Turkish setting.