Film review: The Water Diviner (7 out of 10)

Russell Crowe in The Water Diviner
Russell Crowe in The Water Diviner

With the commemoration of the start of the First World War last year I thought there would be far more films on the topic in 2014 and this year.

However, apart from the excellent Testament of Youth, it has been pretty much all quiet on the Great War front as far as movies are concerned.

Russell Crowe, though, stars in and directs this film that focuses on the aftermath of one of the bloodiest campaigns in the conflict - the Battle of Gallipoli against the Turkish army.

It was a part of the war that mainly involved Australia and New Zealand - the Anzacs - and Gallipoli remains a byword in those countries for extreme courage shown against desperate odds.

Crowe has drawn together a mainly Aussie cast for a very human story.

He plays Connor, the diviner of the title, able to find water deep in the ground around his Australian farm.

The film starts four years after the Great War and Connor and his wife are still struggling to come to terms with hearing that their three sons died at Gallipoli.

After a further tragedy Connor sets off to Turkey to find his sons’ remains and bring them back home.

While staying in Istanbul he becomes friends with the hotel owner Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko) and her young son and he also inadvertently gets involved in the Turkish Nationalistic Movement.

Crowe proves his skills as a director with some impressive shots and a good sense of pace.

He also doesn’t hold back on the horrors of war.

There is good support from Kurylenko who gives a good sense of a woman trapped by tradition.

Yilmaz Erdogan is also very impressive as the Turkish major Connor has to side with in order to find the truth about his sons.

On the down side, Connor’s skills at not only finding water but also sensing where his sons are seemed a bit strange.

And almost predictably the British are shown to be the post-war villains, wrapped up in paperwork and self-interest.

But overall this is a good, often emotional movie and a good tribute to the many soldiers who died on the shores of Gallipoli.

It also bodes well for Crowe’s future if he tries directing again.

Film details: The Water Diviner (15) 111mins

Director: Russell Crowe

Starring: Jai Courtney, Olga Kurylenko, Russell Crowe

Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol