The Water Diviner
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The Water Diviner

Russell Crowe acquits himself nicely in this overly ambitious yet still slim historical romantic drama.

Inspired by the true story of an Australian man who traveled to Turkey in an effort to locate the sons who went missing after the infamous Battle of Gallipoli, this screenplay (by Andrew Anastasios and Andrew Knight) covers everything from the man’s religious life to his nifty ability with a cricket bat. More importantly, and more effectively, it also examines the impact of one of the bloodiest conflicts of World War I, both practically and emotionally. While the numbers (and gorgeous locale) may be specific, the lessons can be applied to just about every other horrific confrontation before and since then.

In his directorial debut, Crowe gives equal attention to the more traditional “story” scenes as he does to the full throttle action ones. While that’s impressive, it does give an all too even pacing to the project, making the under two hour running time drag a bit at times. Still, Crowe’s battle scenes are top notch and he’s collected a fine supporting cast, including the beautiful Olga Kurylenko (as the nice, but frankly, unnecessary love interest), Yilmaz Erdogan and Jai Courtney. But Crowe’s best assets are his cinematographer Andrew Lesnie and his leading man, himself. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Crowe this subtle and sincere in a starring role. His experience in far more complex (and better written) roles pays off this time, making even the most potentially soppy of moments (and there are quite a few of those) work better than they probably should have.

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