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500 Word Review of The Water Diviner

April 28 2015

I love movies. I think what movies you like says a lot about you as a person. One of my favorite things that I’ve done for years now is to go see movies by myself on a weeknight. Some people think seeing movies by yourself is weird, but it is really relaxing. The benefit of doing it on a weeknight is usually you are either the only person in the theater or one of the few. I’ve decided to write a 500 word review for each movie I see to help my writing.

The Water Diviner

04/26/2015 10:15 pm

AMC Firewheel


The Water Diviner is apparently Russell Crowe’s directorial debut. I love period pieces and it was getting okay reviews on Rotten Tomatoes so I decided to check it out. The movie is set during and right after World War I. Without spoiling much, Crowe and his family live in the Australian Outback. His three sons enlist and end up fighting in the nightmare that was Gallipoli, from which they never return. Four years later, his wife still hasn’t gotten over or forgiven him for the loss.

He makes a promise to her that he’ll find their bodies and bring them home. He spends the rest of the movie struggling with British military authorities, Turkish civilians, and Greek soldiers as he tries to make this a reality. There is some stuff here to like: you see both the British and Turks dealing with the aftermath of war as wary friends (? instead of enemies. Crowe’s love interest, played by Olga Kurylenko of Oblivion and Quantum of Solace tries to get over her own loss and attempts to establish herself as an independent woman instead of being bound by the traditions of her culture. There are beautiful shots of both The Outback and Turkey.

However, the film is so heavily based around Crowe that it gets old. To paraphrase a Time review, the movie tries to suggest that his character is the most interesting man in frame at all times, but Crowe’s performance doesn’t carry that suggestion. This is Crowe being very Russell Crowey. He’s very manly and does manly things. The title of the movie comes from his ability to find water, and he uses this same ability to somehow miraculously find dead bodies. Similar magic is seen in the last scene of the movie when he digs some black lump out of his coffee and he takes it as some kind of sign according to Turkish folklore. I don’t want to shoot all that down and sound cynical, but it simply isn’t explained, felt unfinished, and left me wondering what just happened.

That basically describes the entire movie. There’s something there, but you aren’t sure what. At times the movie borders uncomfortably on a The Last Samurai (still a great movie) complex of the white foreigner showing up and changing everyone’s life. That’s not the worst thing in the world, it just feels tone deaf, and probably stems from everything literally revolving around one person - the movie’s director and star. Crowe should get better with time, this is just a rough first effort. I’d like to point out that Yilmaz Erdogan, who playes a Turkish major, probably gives the best performance and I’d like to see him in more films. All in all, this isn’t a movie I’d rush out to see. It’s something you might want to watch on Netflix if you are bored and just love period pieces or have some weird crush on Russell Crowe.