The Water Diviner, Movie
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  • This unfortunately gives the film a slightly patronising air, which is a shame considering the opportunity here to shed some real light on what really happened in Turkey in the wake of The First World War

by James Roberts


    The opening titles say The Water Diviner is inspired by true events, but Russell Crowe’s directorial debut, despite appearances, is fairly liberal with the truth. Taking their queue from a single line written in a Lt. Colonel Cyril Hughes’ letter, about an Australian father who ventured to Turkey in search of his son’s grave, scriptwriters Andrew Knight and Andrew Anastasios have crafted a story rooted in their love for a nation which overlooks and glosses over much of its unsavoury history.
  • The Water Diviner, Movie
  • This is a film I really wanted to like but Russel Crowe’s film lacks focus and suffers from a tendency of being a little too self-indulgent. Audiences in America will likely be quite unfamiliar with The Battle of Gallipoli and Brits might wonder why they are almost exclusively portrayed as pompous halfwits in this story. The title itself seems almost arbitrary as the titular character’s skill for water divining is never solidified, nor made particularly relevant to the plot either.

  • The Water Diviner, Movie
  • Technically, this movie is very accomplished and it looks great; there are scenes that are knowingly very emotionally manipulative but very effective nonetheless. Although there is no distinctively unique style to Russell Crowe’s direction it was for the most part quite refined and gave the story the dignity it really needed. To his credit, he doesn’t overuse the battle scenes, and there is one in particular that elicits a genuine sense of anguish and grief.

  • The Water Diviner, Movie
  • A major flaw with the film are the flimsy sub-plots and superfluous side characters who only serve as a distraction. The basic premise of a father going to find the graves of his sons in an alien country, in fulfilment of a promise to his wife, should have been a substantial enough story to fill the runtime. Because of all the extra material it felt like his sons are given less character and presence than they deserved, but this isn’t overly detrimental to the attachment you build towards them. This is mainly overcome by Crowe’s sympathetic performance in the lead role.

  • The Water Diviner, Movie
  • Of all the performances there is only one that is noticeably shaky at times. Olga Kurylenko plays the part of grieving widow very well but is less convincing as a mother to the young Dylan Georgiades. In fairness to her the character is fairly limited in scope and seems little more than a plot device to keep the film from succumbing to absolute melancholia. It isn’t that she lacks chemistry with Russell Crowe that their relationship in the film feels a little forced but more because of the contrivances and unlikely conveniences in the plot that it all seems a little hard to believe.

  • The Water Diviner, Movie
  • The thing that most threatens to derail the film, and the thing that is most likely to put off some viewers, is the vilification of the Greeks and glorification of the Ottoman Empire. It rarely alludes to the truth of actual events in fear of sabotaging the connection it hopes to forge between you and the Turkish officers (played brilliantly by Cem Yilmaz and Yilmaz Erdogan). This unfortunately gives the film a slightly patronising air, which is a shame considering the opportunity here to shed some real light on what really happened in Turkey in the wake of The First World War.

    If you can overlook some historical inaccuracies and you don’t mind having your emotions manipulated in a fairly predictable manner then there is a competent film here that offers some genuine enjoyment whilst taking on a much overlooked chapter of our history.

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    The review was published as it's written by reviewer in February, 2015. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 1125021641850528/k2311a0225/2.25.15
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