26 September 2023

The Water Diviner

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Reviewed by Victor Rebikoff.


Director: Russell Crowe, Entertainment One, M 111 Minutes.

In his directorial debut, Aussie actor Russell Crowe (‘Winter’s Tale’) stars in this compelling and poignant war drama about an Australian father called Connor who travels to Turkey after the Battle of Gallipoli in search of his missing sons.

The story is set four years following the Gallipoli onslaught, with Connor deciding to leave Australia having learnt that his three sons may have been killed during the offensive and determined to bringing their bodies back home for burial.

On his arrival in Istanbul Connor is soon befriended by beautiful hotel owner Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko of ‘Oblivion’), her son, Orhan and Turkish officer, Major Hasan (Turkish actor Yilmaz Erdogan of ‘Rhino Season’) before meeting authorities from the British War Graves Unit.

Much to his surprise, Connor is initially denied a permit to go to Gallipoli, returning instead to the beach where the Unit’s ranking officer Lt Colonel Hughes (Aussie Jai Courtney of ‘Felony’) allows him to search for his missing sons’ remains.

During the excavation of the site, Major Hasan tells Connor that all three sons were killed before later revealing his son Art (Ryan Corr of ‘Wolf Creek 2’) was in fact alive and taken captive.

Together they set out to infiltrate the Turkish stronghold, only to be ambushed by Greek militants. Connor evades the Greek shelling, escaping with his son and returning to Istanbul where he renews his affection for Ayshe.

Crowe has clearly demonstrated a special flair with his first-time directing effort through his engaging storyline and his select cast of Aussies and Turks among an international ensemble of actors – besides having the striking settings in Australia and Turkey.

In addition, Crowe himself delivers a powerful performance that is both convincing and entertaining, which is complimented by the portrayals by Erdogan as Major Hasan and the delightful Kurylenko as Ayshe.

In particular it is noteworthy that Crowe’s movie should be seen as a tribute to Australians who gave their lives at Gallipoli alongside New Zealanders, which created the ANZAC tradition.

It is further fitting that Channel 7flix should be showing this movie a few days prior to this year’s Anzac Day on 25 April.

THE WATER DIVINER will be shown on Channel 7flix on Friday, 17 April at 8.30PM (AEST).

Vic’s Verdict: 4 Stars

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