THE WATER DIVINER (transfer) review

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These “transfer” reviews are from when I only did reviews on my Facebook page back in 2015. Bare in mind when reading these, I didn’t have the same formula in my review writing that I do now, and my usual “who starred and who directed” information is completely absent, so everything “italicized” is new. With that said, enjoy this review from 2015.

Quite literally, I saw this movie because… I wanted to see a movie and the Arclight got rid of other movies that I wanted to see, or they weren’t playing at a time that suited my schedule. WATER DIVINER was the exception. I knew nothing about this movie. I knew it starred Russell Crowe… that’s it, and even that I only gathered from the poster-icon when selecting the movie that I wanted to see. Had no idea what it was about until I read the synopsis.

Starring: Russell Crowe (THE MUMMY [2017], 3:10 TO YUMA [2007], GLADIATOR [2000], and upcoming films BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE [2018] and BOY ERASED [2018]) and Olga Kurylenko (THE NOVEMBER MAN [2014], OBLIVION [2012], 007 QUANTUM OF SOLACE [2008], and upcoming films THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE [2018] and JOHNNY ENGLISH 3 [2018])

Support: Jai Courtney (SUICIDE SQUAD [2016], DIVERGENT [2014], JACK REACHER [2012], and upcoming films STORM BOY [2018] and ARKIE [2019]), Isabel Lucas (KNIGHT OF CUPS [2016], RED DAWN [2012], TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN [2009], and the upcoming IN LIKE FLYNN [2018]), Ben O’Toole (12 STRONG [2018], EVERYBODY LOVES SOMEBODY [2017], HACKSAW RIDGE [2016], and the upcoming NEKROMANCER [2018]), and Megan Gale (MAD MAX: FURY ROAD [2015] and STEALTH [2005])

Director: Russell Crowe (feature film directorial debut; congrats, sir)
Writers: Andrew Knight (HACKSAW RIDGE, and the upcoming RIDE LIKE A GIRL [2018]) and Andrew Anastasios (screenwriting debut; congrats, sir)
Composer: David Hirschfelder (THE DRESSMAKER [2016] and the upcoming IN LIKE FLYNN)
Cinematographer: Andrew Lesnie (THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES [2014], THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING [2001], and BABE [1995]). Rest in peace, sir. This was his final film.
Editor: Matt Villa (LEGO BATMAN [2017], DAYBREAKERS [2009], and upcoming films WINCHESTER [2018] and AT LAST [2018])

Below is the movie’s story. If you are familiar with the film and wish to see it without spoilers (btw, SPOILERS BELOW), then skip ahead to the review below.

This is my honest opinion of: THE WATER DIVINER

(STORY)

The film opens during a battle during World War I. Specifically the Battle of Gallipoli, a battle between Australia and Turkey. The Turks advance on enemy lines and face little opposition, only to discover that the Australians have retreated. Victory! Huzzah! Fast forward 4 years later, Connor (Russell Crowe) is living a quiet life in Australia with his wife. However, we discover that Connor and his wife had 3 children, all sons… and all 3 went and fought in WWI, specifically in, you guessed it, the Battle of Gallipoli and they died there too. The wife, in her grief, is stuck in denial and continues to have Connor read “Arabian Knights” to empty beds. Her insanity hits the breaking point and drowns herself in a nearby lake. Believing that his family must be buried together, Connor decides that he must travel to the battlefield of Gallipoli to locate the bones of his sons and bring them home. Upon arrival, his luggage is stolen by a young Turkish boy, Orhan (Dylan Georgiades) in the name of bringing business to his hotel. The same hotel that is ran by his uncle and mother, Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko). She doesn’t take kindly to his presence and tries to kick him out, but her brother-in-law decides that business is business and happily offers Connor a room. Turns out, Ayshe doesn’t like Connor because her husband and Orhan’s father fought in the Battle of Gallipoli as well and died there. She obviously hates all Australians for this, but Orhan was told his father just simply hasn’t returned. Essentially lying to him, waiting for the right way to tell him the truth. Connor and Orhan become quick friends, and the boy helps Connor find a military embassy in hopes of gaining legal access to the battlefield, which is blocked off to non-military personel. This plan fails, but as Connor’s tragic reasons for being in Turkey in the first place are revealed to Ayshe, whom has a slight change of heart toward him, gives him another route to take: bribe a fisherman. This works and arrives on the beach, greated by a joint operation of Australian and Turkish forces to reclaiming the bones of their fallen comrads. Lieutenant Colonel Hughes (Jai Courtney) tells Connor that he isn’t authorized to be in this place and tells him to go home, which Connor does not do. Convinced by the kindly Turkish Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdogan) that there is no point in sending the man away to simply let Connor stay and look for his boys. It doesn’t take long for Connor to discover the remains of two of his sons and believes with all his heart that his eldest son must be close by, as he believes that he would not abandon them and would have died with them. At the same time, he learns from a fellow Australian soldier that Major Hasan fought in Gallipoli and was responsible for some violent executions. Nearly destroying his plans altogether, Connor attempts and fails to attack Hasan. The two soon talk and become civil with each other, and later on, friends. Hasan then reveals, despite the Turks having a reputation for not taking prisoners, they did indeed take a few in the Battle of Gallipoli, and Hasan has a strong belief that the reason why Connor can’t find his third son is because his son was one of those prisoners and may not have died at all. With raging fire of hope now sparked in his soul, Connor spends the rest of the movie searching for his missing son with the help of Major Hasan and falling in love with Ayshe. SPOILERS: Arther (Ryan Corr) is indeed alive. He was wounded in combat and fell. His brothers tried to save him but one died trying, the other bled out dying in pain for hours before Arther killed him to end his brother’s misery, spending his time painting religious murals in a nowhere town, trying to come to peace with what he witnessed and did. Connor takes him home and he returns to Ayshe’s hotel, closing on a romantic note.

(REVIEW)

Fun fact, Russell Crowe directed this film. Anywho, my biggest complaint about the movie is that it has no idea what kind of movie it wants to be. Is it a WWI movie? Is it a POST-WWI movie? Is it a psychological drama? A romance? All of these elements are thrown in together and it just doesn’t mix well. With absolutely no offense to miss Kurylenko, who does a beautiful job playing Ayshe, her character is literally there for romantic purposes only. The story occasionally shifts to her point-of-view and what her character faces, but… why? Isn’t the focus supposed to be on this father looking for the remains of his dead sons? Dear lord, movie, I get other people are affected by war, but the narrative is told through the eyes of Connor, not Ayshe. Sure, she and young Georgiades (also a charismatic and charming boy) provide a level of therapy, I guess, to an otherwise VERY distraught man, but fucking hell, your wife’s barely rotting in the ground before you hop on over to the next hot piece of European ass (and Kurylenko is NOT an excuse, as much as I wish she was lol). All hail the power of boners, I guess.

And oh my dear, sweet, gentle jesus is Crowe’s directing is obvious… his inexperience shines blindingly in the first 15-20 minutes. Granted, it gets MUCH better over time, but I swear the movie needed to squeeze another 15 minutes out of itself by throwing in a grand epic battle at the end, which REALLY took me out of the story. Couldn’t think of ANYTHING better, writers? Really? Whatever, I digress.

Don’t get me wrong, the writing isn’t TERRIBLE, and in many ways it’s damn good… during the romance sequences. Yeah, the best written moments of the story come from the most pointless ones, the evolving relationship between Connor and Ayshe. *le sigh.* To be fair, any time Crowe and Erdogan are talking is also a great scene, but they are so far apart in impact to the story, I kind of wish the focus would have been on their relationship instead.

As many complaints that I have, this movie isn’t bad when you lose yourself to the scenes, one by one. You feel for Connor, his struggle, there’s no shortage of heart in this story, but it’s just so painfully muddled by multiple genres that I walked away not knowing how to classify it as a whole.

My honest rating for THE WATER DIVINER: a weak 3/5

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8 Replies to “THE WATER DIVINER (transfer) review”

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