The Water Diviner

DRAMA; 1hr 51min

STARRING: Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko

Sea change: Crowe

With stark efficiency, first-time director Russell Crowe sketches the set-up to his voyage of mass death and individual regeneration — the 1915 battle of Gallipoli, its shocking toll for two nations and the grievous loss for Victorian farmer Joshua Connor (Crowe) of his three Anzac sons. Four years later, a bereft Connor travels to Turkey to bring his boys’ bodies home, a needle-haystack expedition even for a man who can dredge water from dusty and unforgiving ground. Gallipoli is now a giant tomb, delicately excavated by Australian and Turkish forces, who each lost thousands of men. But Connor, uninvited and unwanted, wears his purpose like a shield.


In his performance, Crowe tends towards the slow and steady, Aussie-salt style. Directing, he allows himself more latitude, splicing Connor’s valiant hunt with front line carnage, local colour and an eloquent feminine touch from the doe-eyed Kurylenko as a Turkish woman in whose hotel Connor rents a room. Given the veracity of the tinderbox themes, its pulse doesn’t always beat as strongly as it could. But The Water Diviner is still a beautiful film, with its painterly light, imposing sense of time and place and its open, embracing heart.