If you have the opportunity to see Russell Crowe's new film, "The Water Diviner," take it. Go see this film.
There, now that I have that off my chest, let me explain:
"The Water Diviner" is set primarily in Turkey, four years after the Battle of Galipoli, (1919). Joshua Conner, an Australian farmer, (Crowe), who is able to find water for his dry home, has now gone to Turkey to find the bodies of the three sons he lost in the battle and bring them home.
"The Water Diviner" does something all really great films do: It makes me want to know about something I knew nothing about two hours ago. I knew nothing about the Battle of Galipoli, I don't know what an ANZAC was. But you can bet by the end of the weekend, I'm going to have read quite of bit about both. That's the mark of a great film...does it make you want to know MORE about something. (Think about it...Titanic, Schindler's List, A Beautiful Mind...the list goes on. Anyone come out of a comic book superhero movie and say, "Hey let's read a book because I'm really interested to know more about history or literature or mathematics?" No, because it's a comic book hero movie and they've told you everything and blown up everything and there's nothing else to know.)
We know Russell Crowe can tell a very compelling story with his acting. This time around he also tells the story by directing the film, and it is, I believe, a well done job for a first time.
This is a very Australian film. If you are familiar with some of Crowe's early work, such as "Heaven's Burning" (one of my top 50 favorite all time films) or "Romper Stomper" (One of Crowe's most celebrated early roles) then you understand what I mean. Not all American audiences are going to fully grasp what is happening because the Battle of Galipoli, fought during World War I, is a singularily Australian piece of history. This is a story told by an Australian for Australians.
That said, the themes of "The Water Diviner" are universal: Family, children, hope, God, war, friendships, love. While the time and place may be foreign, these truths certainly are not and Crowe and his very talented cast bring these themes to light in a surprising, dramatic, and heart wrenching way.
This is a beautifully shot film full of glorious colors, accents, and sounds. The music is spot on, and, I was pleased to see that not only did Crowe direct and star in the movie, he also co-wrote one of the closing songs. (I didn't see all the credits, he may have been part of the catering crew.) Every scene is vivid and engaging and any movie that puts Russell Crowe on a horse is going to be a win because the man can sit a horse.
Probably the most interesting character in the movie is Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko) a woman who runs a hotel in Turkey where Conner stays while he tries to cut through British red tape and Turkish hate to find the unmarked graves of his three sons. She is a woman caught in limbo, not wife or widow, because her husband has not returned from the war, but she is a mother to young Orhan (Dylan Geroglades) a boy who befriends Conner. Orhan is a shining star in this film, a bright light of hope among cynical, war weary adults.
This movie would do well at an Imax or an Ultra screen because it was filmed to be watched and reveled in. It's a shame that here in America, it's going to be relegated to a short run on regular screens. It's a brilliant film, one that made me laugh, and cry. While everyone else in Hollywood is putting on tights and saving the universe, this film takes a moment to tell a story about a man who simply wanted to save a tiny piece of his soul and wound up finding so much more.
I said it before, I'll say it again: It you have an opportunity to see, "The Water Diviner" take it. Go see this movie.