Russell Crowe has already established himself as a great actor over the years and while he has done some directing on smaller scale he is finally taking the helm in his first feature film The Water Diviner. Can Crowe bring the same skill behind the camera as he does in front of it or will it get lost in the chaos or the war it follows?
The Water Diviner follows an Australian farmer who travels to Turkey to find his 3 missing sons after the Battle of Gallipoli, in 1915. While staying at a hotel in Istanbul, he meets a beautiful hotel manager and tries to find a way to Gallipoli. The first half of the film is a bit slow paced, but with good reason. It never picks up too much, but isn’t really all that necessary for the story they are telling. This is a story about the human spirit, loss and redemption that is well executed using the back drop of a historical event. Crowe is great in the lead role as usual, but his skills behind the camera are just as good. He has crafted a really good film that uses the landscapes as much as a character as the cast themselves. That is highly important to a film like this as the difference in the places these people come from is a major part to their stories. As mentioned Crowe delivers a great performance that you can see he was passionate about. He brings depth the role that makes you feel his loss and emotional struggles in not only the search for his sons, but also his own guilt. The rest of the cast does a good job as well including Jai Courtney in a more toned down role than he has done in some time. While this is far from an action movie, there are a few war sequences that help to break up the pace a bit and further impact the nature of where this is all heading. There is one scene in particular involving the brothers that packs a huge emotional and physical punch that does so much in such a short amount of time, but also showcases the real turmoil caused by war.
This is one of those films that might not resonate with a lot of people hoping for a more war centric film, but it features a good story with a decent amount of meat to chew on without ever getting overly heavy. It is a bit slow throughout with most a necessity, but might be a bit too slow for some. If you are a fan of Crowe then give the film a try as he does have some great skills as a director that rivals his abilities as an actor. It will be interesting to see what he puts out next. In addition to the film, this release features extras including a making of featurette and a special recalling The Battle of Gallipoli.