Its been a while when I could just say Russell Crowe is awesome!! Throughout his distinguished acting career, sometimes marred by off camera incidents, many of his film roles are outsiders looking inwards. The characters he played in Gladiator, Cinderella Man and A Beautiful Mind are physically and mentally troubled men, detached from their families. His character in his directorial debut is on the same lines. The film is essentially a mix of epic Hollywood elements and an accurate, respectable portrayal of both the Turkish army and culture. The latter is largely why this film succeeds - because it doesn't judge, but rather it observes the practices of the Turkish people. This element combined with some powerful Hollywood emotional scenes make for a very enjoyable and extraordinary viewing experience.
The film is set in 1919 when Australian soldiers, including Lt-Col Cyril Hughes (Jai Courtney), are aided by Turkish officer Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdogan) to locate the bodies of their fallen men in Turkey. The mental scars on both sides haven't healed yet. At one point in the film Hughes says he can't forgive either side. Meanwhile back in Australia, a water diviner named Connor (Russell Crowe) is living on a property in the harsh, arid desert with his wife Eliza (Jacqueline McKenzie). One of his skills is being able to locate water so he can build a well. At home, his wife is in denial about the absence of their three sons, now missing for four years since Gallipoli. Connor pleases his wife by reading The Arabian Nights to the children's empty beds. Unable to live without her sons, Eliza drowns herself. Connor is not a religious man and Father McIntyre (Damon Herriman) is reluctant to give a blessing to her burial because her death was suicide. Connor vows he will travel overseas to find bodies of his children and bury his entire family together. After traveling to Turkey, he stays in a hotel run by Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko), a Turkish woman who lives with her son and aging father. She isn't ready to accept her husband died during the war and is initially hostile towards Connor for being Australian. But she warms to him when he becomes a father figure to her son. He manages to sneak into Gallipoli, a restricted area, and uses his skills to locate the bodies of two of his sons. While devastated, there is hope his third son Art (Ryan Corr) might still be alive. One does not have to be Turkish or an Australian to be interested or touched by this film. One doesn't need to be necessarily interested in history, either. Director Russell Crowe offers something for everyone who carries a heart and soul. It offers a beautiful yet heart-wrenching journey to all those that love the art of cinema.
The most intriguing or should I say amazing aspect of the entire film is the close friendship between the Turkish and Australian soldiers after the war, there are even multiple comments in what appear to be in jest of this bond - however, to say the least, it is a great exemplification of the humaneness and genuineness of all soldiers who fought in the war. The Turkish army is manifested to be a group of very respectable people merely defending their home land and for this I praise Crowe the most for showing that there was no bad guy, there was no evil, there was just useless and pointless killings and this epiphany is (unfortunately) recognized only after the war was over. Russell Crowe has once again given an emotional performance! He is often gentle, with lighter shades than expected. He's playing a good man whose earnestness fuels his determination to honor his family. Jai Courtney is convincing. Turkish actor Yilmaz Erdogan is brilliant. Olga Kurylenko gives a heartwarming & a very likeable performance. On the whole ' The Water Diviner' is a tale of fatherly love mingled with an epic adventure! Trust me when I say this - its a spectacular movie, a must see & true masterpiece on all proportions.