Needle In A Haystack
The Water Diviner
Stars: Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko, Dylan Georgiades, Yilmaz Erdogan, Cem Yilmaz, Jai Courtney, Jacqueline McKenzie, Damon Harriman, James Fraser and Ben O’Toole
Director: Russell Crowe
Scriptwriters: Andres Anastasio and Andres Knight, based on the novel of the same title by Andrew Anastassios and Dr. Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios
Composer: David Hirschfelder
Cinematographer: Andrew Lesnie
English and Turkish Languages
Rating: R for war violence
Running Length: 112 minutes
What came first, the movie script or the novel? A bit of confusion here, but one thing is certain, Russell Crowe can do a credible job of directing an action film, that also has moments of calm in it. After all, Crowe starred in “Gladiator” and “Robin Hood.” The story here is a war story, set after WWI and after the battle at Gallipoli, in Eastern Turkey, where thousands of troops lost their lives. It concerns a man named Joshua (Russell Crowe) searching for his three sons, all of whom were soldiers. The man lives in Australia, so this is quite a journey for him.
When writing about events in history, sometimes situations are tweaked a bit to fit a storyline. Reference, the television film “Killing Jesus” that doesn't have Pilate’s wife having disturbing dreams, but someone else. So in “The Water Diviner,” one isn't always certain in the early Twentieth Century, and between the countries of Greece and Turkey, what country is the aggressor and what country is fighting to defend itself at any particular time. For an interesting film on the battle at Gallipoli, there is an early Mel Gibson film, called “Gallipoli” (1981 and directed by Peter Weir) that propelled Gibson to stardom.
The story in “The Water Diviner,” has Joshua as a farmer and with a special gift---he is a water piner and can find this precious liquid when others can‘t. Eventually, he leaves Australia to find his sons, all soldiers. There are Arthur (Ryan Corr,) Edward (James Fraser) and Henry (Ben O’Toole.) On his journey, Joshua goes to Turkey and there meets, and becomes friends with, a hotel owner, Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko), who has a son, Orhan (Dylan Georgiades.) Joshua can't get information from the British government about the boys, and begins to suspect that one or more may still be alive. No one is talking about MIA soldiers. Though, there is one person, a Turkish soldier, Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdogan) who helps him. Joshua gets caught up in a battle when Greek forces invade, and then, hope. There are skirmishes and parts of the story are told in flashbacks..
Crowe looks appropriately scruffy as the farmer from Australia, while Olga Kurylenko is appropriately distrustful of men in this war time. The rest of the cast are not well-known in this country, with the exception of a short appearance by Australian actor, Jai Courtney ("The Divergent Series.").
There are hints of a romance here (after all, it is a Russell Crowe film). There is action (even a storm) and WWI war violence. That War, being considered “The Great War,”really was fought across the Continent. Three stories going on here---the first is the journey of Joshua to find his sons. The second is the widowed hotel owner, her son and possible suitors, and the third is what happened to the sons. On a side note, I would think that with the gift of finding water in a desert, Joshua could find his sons in a hurry, but perhaps that only works in Australia. Even so, it is a bit of a stretch to go searching for people after a major conflict, something like a needle in a haystack.
I found the film to be an interesting study of searching for loved ones, even it if means crossing an ocean with scant information, to do so. Acting is well-done, and Crowe shows both sensitivity and the ability to be forceful as Joshua. Olga Kurylenko is hesitant, at first, then shows interest. It seems as though most actors want to be directors at sometime in their careers, but Russell Crowe just may have found another venue for himself.
Copyright 2015 Marie Asner
For more reviews of Russell Crowe films see the following: