I was kind of dreading the second period drama of the week, The Water Diviner, as the first left a bad taste in my mouth. Add in the fact that I just don’t like Russel Crowe and I expected to be miserable. But really, this was actually pretty well done.
The Water Diviner stars Russel Crowe as Joshua Connor, an Australian farmer with a special skill. He’s great at being able to find water deep underground, using only a stick and his instincts. He’s living a lonely life, as his three sons went off to war in Turkey and never came home. So Connor decides to use his gift for finding things to see if he can find the remains of his sons and bring them home.
Crowe is breaking into directing with this movie and I have to say, he has a gift for it. This is a complicated movie, with multiple venues and several underlying plotlines. But Crowe has a natural gift for pacing and manages to make it all work together to tell a seamless story.
Particularly impressive is that this was filmed on a limited budget, but still manages to look epic and big budget. That might have been due to getting gifted cinematographer Andrew Lesnue, who shot “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” on board for the filming. He managed to catch the endless blue skies of Australia, all the way to the claustrophobic battle scenes of Gallipoli, with the unique ability to capture all the moving parts while presenting a full picture at the same time.
Crowe was buyable as an Australian Farmer, on a quest that defies reason. He’s particularly poignant in his scenes with Turkish Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdogan), a Major from the opposite side who’s been tasked with identifying countless remains. The dynamic between the two of them is incredible. They are one part adversaries and one part compatriots at the same time. Both of them play their parts as multifaceted, fully realized individuals and you can hate nor like neither one. They both have their reason for behaving the ways they do.
This is an unforgettable movie made with skill and focus. While the storyline is simple, the complexity of the scenery, direction and characters themselves make it a cut above most of the movies out there right now.
The only problem I see with this film is getting it to appeal to a wider audience. It’s a fantastic film that has been crippled with limited release. What Crowe was able to do on a limited budget is amazing, but I only wish he’d put a little money aside for marketing. This is a gem that could easily be missed because of the lack of distribution.
There’s very little I can say was poorly done in this movie. Even Crowe’s sometimes stagnant stoicism seems to work. The minor characters are all fleshed out and the war is viewed from realistic point of view, rather than as simple hell, or over the top patriotism. It’s a film that strikes the right balance and is easily worth the watch.
Official Movie Trailer and Movie Poster Below.