The Water Diviner 

 

Half

 

 

Russell Crowe makes his directorial debut with a true-ish story, which he reduces to implausible banality.

 

   Water Diviner, The

Shallow grave: Russell Crowe

 

The key line of dialogue in Russell Crowe’s directorial debut – “inspired by true events” – is “you find water, but you can't even find your own children!” Crowe plays Joshua Connor, a farmer from North Western Australia who specialises in dowsing. But when his three sons go missing in action at the battle of Gallipoli in 1915, he cannot find his purpose. Then, when the boys’ mother takes her own life, Connor resolves to do the right thing by her and bring her sons back to join her in the consecrated ground of the their local church.

 

The Water Diviner, then, is a tale of tenacity, as well as being a sweeping saga of war, loss, courage, split-second timing, impossibly beautiful woman and a burly, middle-aged cowboy wandering around the back streets of Istanbul. As an actor, Russell Crowe has worked with the likes of Ridley Scott, Ron Howard, Michael Mann and Peter Weir and has gone to pains to take this remarkable story (very, very loosely based on fact) and blow it up into a cinematic epic. Unfortunately, it is a clunky, embarrassingly predictable and above all cheesy affair that fails to gather any emotional momentum because, quite frankly, it’s all so unbelievable.

 

It is so full of music that there are four credited composers, all of whom do their best to gloss over transitional scenes, which are often shot in slow motion. It’s as if these sequences are so potentially implausible that they’ve been condensed into little visual packages to save the scriptwriters – Andrew Anastasios and Andrew Knight – the mortification of providing the dialogue. Crowe is also no expert at action sequences, witnessed by a silly incursion by the Greeks, who cannot shoot for toffee and are outwitted by Connor with a cricket bat. The editing is also pedestrian, the cinematography clichéd and the broad caricatures of the British military simply offensive.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Russell Crowe, Jacqueline McKenzie, Olga Kurylenko, Yılmaz Erdoğan, Cem Yılmaz, Jai Courtney, Ryan Corr, James Fraser, Ben O'Toole, Isabel Lucas.

 

Dir Russell Crowe, Pro Troy Lum, Andrew Mason and Keith Rodger, Screenplay Andrew Anastasios and Andrew Knight, Ph Andrew Lesnie, Pro Des Chris Kennedy, Ed Matt Villa, Music David Hirschfelder, Costumes Tess Schofield.

 

RatPac Entertainment/Seven Network Australia/Hopscotch Features/Fear of God Films-Entertainment One.

111 mins. Australia/USA. 2014. Rel: 3 April 2015. Cert. 15.