I just walked out of a special screening of Russell Crowe’s directorial debut, The Water Diviner. While not perhaps what I was expecting, I’m struggling for a way to describe it and not make jokes. Let’s get this out of the way; if you cannot deal with intense, INTENSE scenes of war, do not see this movie. They are not the driving force, and only make up about 6 minutes total of the entire feature, but they are harsh. I would also like to remind everyone the last time we saw Crowe in a leading role was Noah.
The reason for the the warning of harsh war at least in my mind is because the average person who goes to see this movie will not be expecting it. Is it the most gritty and painful thing since Saving Private Ryan? No, but it will more than likely jar members of the audience not prepared for it. There were at least two people who got up and left from our screening for the first flash, and man, they would have been REALLY upset later.
The Water Diviner starts in Australia, but the majority place in Turkey around 1919, about four-five years after the Battle Of Gallipoli ends in. The first third of the movie was very disjointed, and I will put the blame firmly in the editor’s lap. The constant appearance of white text at the bottom of the screen really pulled focus, and more than likely would have flowed better with the use of a voice over. I won’t say who’s voice I think would have been best, because that might ruin the end of the film.
Crowe will, at least I hope, find a stronger directorial voice in his next feature. The latter half of this film moved well, had some beautiful scenes. But I think it will fail to hit the proper notes with audiences, especially since the majority of press leading up to today’s opening have left out key points, like war. As the lead male, Russell was as usual on point, and his moments of losing control reminded me why I enjoy his work. Jai Courtney was also good, it’s nice to see him doing something where he is warmer than Divergent.
So if you can handle the war scenes, I would give this film a solid 6 1/2 out of 10, with particular emphasis on it doing well because it’ll mean more freedom for Crowe’s next film.
The thing I really instead of this movie is the two hour feature about what it was like for Crowe the Australian to be filming such a piece in Turkey almost a hundred years after the events depicted. THAT I would watch.