The Water Diviner
dir Russell Crowe
scr Andrew Knight, Andrew Anastasios
prd Troy Lum, Andrew Mason, Keith Rodger
with Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko, Jai Courtney, Yilmaz Erdogan, Cem Yilmaz, Dylan Georgiades, Ryan Corr, Isabel Lucas, Jacqueline McKenzie, Steve Bastoni, Christopher Sommers, Michael Dorman
release Aus 26.Dec.14, UK 3.Apr.15, US 24.Apr.15
14/Australia 1h51
The Water Diviner
Into the war zone: Erdogan, Yilmaz and Crowe

crowe kurylenko courtney
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Water Diviner Based on the hint of a true story, the events depicted in this film are rather astonishing, not just because they're both intriguing and emotionally involving but also because everything is so clearly fictionalised. Strong performances help paper over the rather clunky plot, and there are scenes that carry a real punch. But everything feels undercooked.

Connor (Crowe) is a farmer in rural Australia with a gift for finding underground wells, although his wife (McKenzie) is struggling to cope after their three sons were killed four years earlier in the 1915 battle of Gallipoli. After she dies, Connor travels to Turkey to find his sons' bodies and put them to rest. But the British command doesn't want him there. With the help of local officer Hasan (Erdogan), Connor makes his way to the battlefield and locates the bodies of two of his sons, learning that the eldest (Corr) may have survived.

Alongside this central plot is a gently romantic sideroad in which Connor flirts with the sexy Ayshe (Kurylenko). She manages his Constantinople hotel with her cheeky 10-year-old son (Georgiades) and pushy brother-in-law (Bastoni), who wants to have his missing brother declared dead so he can take Ayshe as his third wife. This soapy storyline feels like little more than a distraction from the more important business at hand, which includes lots of political and historical commentary.

In other words, the script is a bizarre hodgepodge of random characters and plot-threads that never quite connect. Crowe is solid as Connor, even if his oddly supernatural ability to know what's lying under the topsoil feels contrived. And even if his spark with the gorgeously charismatic Kurylenko (who wouldn't fall for her?) is a bit yucky. As Turkish soldiers, Erdogan and Yilmaz ground the film beautifully.

As a director, Crowe is great at establishing the settings, from the dusty Outback to the bustling streets of 1920 Constantinople to the rough and unpredictable civil war raging in the countryside, plus gut-wrenching flashbacks to fierce fighting in Gallipoli. Best of all is the sense of honouring Australian troops who gave their lives 100 years ago, and the tenacity of one man who had nothing else to do but tie up the loose ends of his family. This is more than enough enough to hold the interest even when the film drifts off-course.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 11.Mar.15

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