A tender, soulful Russell Crowe makes The Water Diviner work. Crowe as a farmer who has lost his wife and three sons gives a masterful performance. Russell Crowe not only stars in this epic, but has directed The Water Diviner and proves his Oscar -winning talent for best actor needs no direction. Instead of seeing New Zealand born-Australian bred Crowe flex his pecks as he did in his early days as The Gladiator we see him portray the gentle farmer, Connor, who has an uncanny gift to locate water in the driest parts of the Australian Outback. Connor is a tortured man who mourns his missing three sons who fought in the Ottoman Empire during the Battle of Gallipoli in 1914. Connor had promised his wife to bury their sons next to her and so he sets out on a journey to Turkey to find their bones and remains.
The filming of Istanbul and the Turkish countryside is spectacular as is the authenticity of the turn of the century sets and period costumes. Dark sepia tones dominate the film and create the somber mood as Connor travels from Australia to Turkey by boat, horseback and antiquated locomotive. The acting of the entire cast of relative unknowns is first rate.
Recently on CBS Sunday Morning Crowe said how he longed for the day when he could only direct. He had to cast himself as the star in The Water Diviner because he needed to do so to get financing. Crowe said, "Directing was the most complete experience because so much is under your control. This is the language I speak."
The writing by Andrew Knight and Andrew Anastasios is original and uses flash backs to fill in the gaps in the story line which moves quickly. The folly and futility of war are the themes of The Water Diviner as well as a faith based perseverance. Pity the ending is flawed, and has a scotch tape feel to it in an otherwise heart wrenching tale.
The Turkish actor Yilmaz Erdogan as Major Hasan is particularly outstanding. Major Hasan could possibly have killed Connors sons and yet they form a friendship that defies the hatred that is normally associated with the wartime enemy. Spectacular beauty and Quantum of Solace Bond girl Olga Kurylenko as Ayshe portrays a widow and adds a much needed love interest to an occasionally too bleak scenario.
What bothered me was the implausibility of a man searching for his sons' corpses and being willing to uproot his life from is vast farm in the Australian Outback to chase helter skelter to Turkey for charred remains. But his journey justifies my inaccurately perceived futility. This is Hollywood in the Outback with a sojourn to Istanbul folks! Just go with it. If feeling good is to your liking, see The Water Diviner.