Monday, 4 May 2015

Film: 'The Water Diviner'

If you're into 'weepies', this is for you. I found it so heavy with sentiment (complete with gushy orchestral strings to ensure that you're emoting sufficently) that my 'cringe-muscles' soon tired out.

Starring Russell Crowe, also in his first full-length feature as director, he's the water-diviner of the film's title, as played in the opening scene and not repeated.
 The story, set in 1919, has him in softly-spoken, gentle-giant mode as Aussie father to three teenage boys who had set off to fight as ANZACs in what turned out to be the disastrous Gallipoli campaign four years previously, and never returned. Spurred on by guilt and triggered by a harrowing domestic incident, he travels to Turkey to try to discover what had happened to them.

I take the opening credit "Inspired by actual events" with a pinch of salt as the coincidences take some believing, with his persistence in his searching for information, winning, against all odds, over the reluctance to assist from both the occupying British army and Turkish authorities. But being Crowe, his efforts cannot fail. And don't go thinking that he's a pussy cat who'll roll over as for a tummy-tickle! Oh no! If he's provoked or put in a tight corner, goodness me, he can lash out like a thing possessed!
For those demanding a bit of female interest, that's catered for too in the Angelina-esque (face and body to match - phwarrrr!) hotel assistant (Olga Kurylenko) working in her uncle's establishment. When Crowe turns up at the hotel, after she finds out that he's from Australia she turns cold and argumentative towards him. I won't say how their relationship progresses from there because you ought to have the 'fun' of finding out for yourself.
It's a world where allegiances can turn in a split-second so that you're not sure who's going to be helpful to his quest.
The flashbacks to Gallipoli were, I must admit, very well done. Believably vicious and horrific, there's actually only very little blood seen. One thing that I don't think I've seen on film before is the depiction, in the quietness of night, of the pitiful cries and groans of the wounded necessarily left on the battlefield untended. Common sense tells one that this must have been what is was like.

Most of the action takes place in Turkey, of course, and it's all very well captured on film, with handsome grandeur of scenery, both rural and inside Istanbul.

As in my previous film blog there may well be those who refuse to see this film because of an antipathy to its star. All I can say is that his presence, per se, didn't put me off and has nothing to do with my final verdict.

It's true that the story lends itself to sentiment so I can't fault it for delivering just that, but it really does positively wallow in it. If you don't mind that aspect then you'll like this film. For myself it was just too much to take, hence my........................5/10.


  1. Although not a favourite of mine, I'll take Russell over Ben any day! I rather like a weepy so it might suit me. But I'd already decided that this will be a DVD for me and not a cinema visit. Good review though Ray - thank you.

    1. I think a DVD would be a better place to see this, Craig. Then you can have wine along with it and blubber all you like, not an activity I'm especially partial to.

  2. Ray,
    I used to like Russell Crowe but could never see him in another film after his "throw the phone at the hotel clerk" incident (be being a hotel clerk). Also his borish behavior at the Academy Awards a few years ago when he was a hot property. Sometimes the actor's personal behavior ruins my appreciation of their acting talent. Mr. Crowe is one of those actors.

    1. I'm with you, Ron, in being unable to forget any actor's undesirable 'extra-curricular' conduct. There's a permanent black mark there which won't ever be erased however much I'd like it to be. Unfair, I know, but part of my persona is being able to forgive (at least in a way) but impossible to forget. It hangs over them for ever like a ghost. So your view of Mr Crowe I find perfectly plausible.