The Water Diviner (Warner Bros., R)

It surely brings perspective on multi-cultural grief.

 

 

This new war drama “inspired by true events” is Russell Crowe’s feature-film directing debut, and it is being released for the 100th anniversary of the WWI Battle of Gallipoli, where Britain invaded Turkey through the Dardanelles (the connecting water strait between Europe and Asia), which led to tens of millions of lives lost. Also starring as Connor, Crowe tells the story of an Australian farmer who now lost his mourning wife and is traveling to Turkey in order to fulfill his promise to her, and locate his three missing (presumably killed at war) sons.

Arriving in Turkey, he gets immediately tricked by a cute and clever kid (Dylan Georgiades) who leads him to his mother and her customer-needing hotel, where Connor meets the beautiful Ukrainian Bond Girl (Olga Kurylenko, Quantum of Solace). At first all their confrontations are awkwardly cold, but she eventually gives in to Connor’s Aussie charm, and they share a future-telling cup of coffee that (according to her cup-reading skills) later brings him back to her.

Finally finding a way to get to the closed-to-the-public war sight, four years after the Battle of Gallipoli, on a boat, he teams up with Turkish Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdogan, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) who explains his willingness to help by stating that Connor is “the only father who came looking.”

The plot takes place mainly during the aftermath of war, but we do get to see some chilling battle sequences in the form of flashbacks, as Connor slowly advances the story of what really happened to his sons. In the beginning we witness him water divining; digging wells by searching for underground water using a psychic sense. This becomes useful when he is finally standing on the battleground trying to figure out where exactly his sons’ lives ended, in order to collect and properly bury their remains back at home.

The simple concept of water is a sort of magical symbol in The Water Diviner, and eventually even grants Connor and his one remaining (and found) son freedom from the vicious enemies when they are cornered and have to jump into a well in order to escape.

The truly admirable shots of Istanbul, as well as farmland Australia and the Gallipoli landscape (which was actually shot in Australia too), by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Andrew Lesnie (the Lord of the Rings Trilogy) really add to the already emotional story about loss and sacrifice with their picture-perfect polished look.

The Water Diviner is an old-fashioned family drama type film (except for the few gruesome battle sequences) that advances mostly on chance and coincidence, but on the other hand, it surely brings perspective on multi-cultural grief. | Lea Vrábelová

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