The Water Diviner

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The bond between parent and child is something that can withstand the perils of war, location and even the absence of hope.

The Water Diviner is based on Andrew Anastasios’s 2014 novel of the same title. The film explores this fatherly connection through the story of Australian farmer Joshua Connor (Russell Crowe) who travels to Turkey at the end of the Gallipoli campaign to try and locate his three missing sons. They are presumed dead, but Connor’s mystical senses tell him that his sons are still alive.

Crowe’s masculine and unassuming style of acting serves him well in his role as a determined foreigner. This is his first directorial role in five years, and he delivers a visually stunning and poignant film.

The film pays tribute to the sacrifice made by Australian soldiers during WWI. However, it’s his focus on inexperienced soldiers and the needless loss of life that I found most effective. The battle scenes featuring the three brothers Arthur (Ryan Corr), Edward (James Fraser) and Henry (Ben O’Toole) represent a parent’s worst nightmare. It’s definitely a tear jerker.

The damage of war is also reflected in the film’s surroundings. From the soldiers bodies that litter the country side, to the craters and trenches just off Gallipoli beach.

However the locations in Turkey are vibrant and exciting. Given the current tensions between Muslim and Australian culture, it’s refreshing to see such a positive associations between two groups portrayed on film. Crowe showcases the beauty of iconic locations like the famous Blue Mosque in Istanbul. There is also an emphasis on the code of respect and friendship between Turkish soldiers as well as the peaceful values of their religion. Connor assimilates well amongst the soldiers, even enjoying an iconic game of cricket together at one stage. This gives the film a warm and inclusive feel, rather than telling the story strictly from the ANZAC perspective.

My only criticism would be the slightly awkward romance between Connor and Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko), the owner of the hotel in Istanbul where he is staying. Although sweet, the chemistry between them feels forced, leaving this culturally mismatched pair as just that… mismatched. However, I will give kudos to Crowe for upholding Turkish cultural dating rituals and incorporating the native language.

Overall the film is powerful, heart-warming and beautiful, showcasing some great Australian talent including Dan Wiley (Puberty Blues), Jai Courtney (Divergent), Michael Dorman (Wonderland) and even a cameo by Megan Gale.

The Water Diviner is in cinemas now

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