The Water Diviner

by | Apr 20, 2015 | 0 comments

Russell Crowe’s Directorial Debut Proves to Be An Successful One


Russell Crowe can direct. The Australian actor has transformed himself in one of Hollywood’s best, after consecutive roles for which he was Oscar nominated in The Insider, Gladiator, and A Beautiful Mind (he won for Gladiator). He’s continued to cement himself as a quality actor with more recent roles in films such as Cinderella Man, Noah, and most recently The Water Diviner. With The Water Diviner Russell Crowe took on the extra role of directing, for the first time. With Crowe’s leadership The Water Diviner turns out to be a quality, greatly paced, and very entertaining film.

The Water Diviner is inspired by actual events. It tells the story of an Australian farmer named Connor (Russell Crowe), who lives with his wife Eliza (Jacqueline McKenize). The couple lives in an extremely dry part of the 1919 Australia, (Region of Victoria) where it rains every so many years. In order to survive and maintain his crops, Connor resorts to a divine ritual that helps him locate underground pockets of water, which he later transforms into wells. At night we see Eliza persuade Connor to “read to the kids” after Crowe finishes a chapter of Arabian Nights the camera pans to three empty beds. We soon learn that Connor’s three children volunteered to fight for the British in World War I, but they never came back. The last that Connor had heard of them was from the bloody battle of Gallipoli in Turkey; the army had given them up for dead. However, after a drastic turn of events in Australia, Connor decides to go to Turkey to look for his sons.

What surprised me most was the incredible balance that the film had, it doesn’t rely on one facet to carry out its story: the acting was great, the script was witty, and the length and pace were perfect. A first time director is expected to fall on a cheesy and “safer” route; inexperienced directors also tend to make longer movies to “have more to show.” Crowe, however, managed to put together a great team that stayed true to Crowe’s and their cinematic beliefs.

The acting is exceptional. What I most appreciated about it was that it came from lesser-known actors. Apart from Russell Crowe, the rest of the cast was comprised maily of Turkish and Australian actors, amongst which Cem Yilmaz and Yilmaz Erdogan shine out by playing Turkish military officials. We also have notable performances from Jai Courtney, who adds a bit of star power (is known for Divergent, Jack Reacher, A Good Day to Die Hard, and is in the upcoming Terminator: Genysis) but plays a more minor role, and a fantastic Olga Kurylenko (known for Oblivion) who holds her ground against Crowe with a challenging role of a hotel owner who believes her husband (who was also in Gallipoli) is still alive. The actors give each other space, and Crowe resists hogging the screen, this gives the cast and the film the great balance mentioned before.

The script really surprised me. It could have been easy to take this true story and make it extremely cheesy and tacky for the general audiences (like Unbroken did), but the dialogue ended up being extremely smart, daring even to crack a few original jokes. Historically it’s also accurate, which gives me a relief since period pieces sometimes sloth over history research. But what worked really well was the unpredictability that the script maintained. At first you start guessing (“oh he’s gonna end up with her,” or “oh he’s going to find his sons and its gonna be all great”), but the script pulls you this way and that so that you end up doubting your predictions and are on the edge of your seat for nearly the whole film. The script also took a bold move in combining a war story with a road story. The film could have messed up the scale and abused one story theme too much, but, again, the film was able to achieve a great balance that ends up being the key to its success. What I especially liked about the script was how it never takes on one biased perspective. It doesn’t frame all the English as good and all the Turks as bad. There is a mix of each (just like in real life), and that balance of perspective not only allows for a more believable story, but it also gives proper respect to both historical sides, something not normally seen in Hollywood films.

Overall the film gives us a peek at Russell Crowe’s possible directing career. Could he be the next Clint Eastwood? It’s a little too early to make such bold predictions but, nonetheless, he’s on the right path.








What is your favorite Russell Crowe movie? Let me know in the comments section.

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