Making his directorial entrance, Russell Crowe brings the aftermath of the WW1 battle of Gallipoli to the big screen. The movie, although not without flaws, is a visually stunning and emotionally impacting film with great story telling.
It is about Joshua Connor (Russell Crowe) who has lost three sons in the battle of Gallipoli and four years later, he works as a water diviner in Australia. In the beginning of the movie, we see him laughing of joy in a well he found, however after his depressed wife commits suicide by drowning herself, we see a long shot of him crying holding her dead body in a lake. The movie is about Joshua Connor's travel to the battle's aftermath in search for his three dead sons. It is juxtaposed with the story of two Turkish generals (Yilmaz Erdogan and Cem Yilmaz) who help the Australian soldiers search the battlefield for their soldiers.
The plot is emotionally grasping and thought provoking. It is a very hard-hitting film, that highlights the horrors of war and it is culturally-empathic; it does not pick sides and it is only about characters. I think the plot was solid but some changes could have improved it. Joshua Connor's wife's suicide is emotional, because it is easy to feel empathy for a mother with dead kids, not because of the writing. The same applies for her kids; there is only a snippet of scenes with their childhood. As emotional as the movie was, it could have been more impacting with one more scene.
What makes this movie special and make me respect Russell Crowe as a director is the colour palette. Each scene has its own set of colours that are laid out in the set and it really helps boost the emotions built in the scene. The sets, costumes and props are very beautiful and the movie is full of symbolism. The scenes in Constantinople are very rich with life and the battlefield is very grim and dark. This in fact may be one of the most visually stunning movies of 2014 that uses colour very masterfully. I feel that it is too bad that we did not get to explore it as much.
The last movie I watched before this was a French movie called 'Amour', which has a lot of acting driven scenes such as 'The Water Diviner'. There are many long shots where the director just hits record and lets the scene play out and it worked very well for it. I feel like in the beginning of 'The Water Diviner' there are way too many cuts in emotional scenes.
When it comes to acting Russell Crowe, Yilmaz Erdogan and Cem Yilmaz deliver incredible performances. The movie also stars Jai Courtney as an Australian general. I am was not a fan of Jai Courtney, simply because I thought he would become a one-dimensional action movie star, but he gave a very solid performance that really amazed me.
Overall, I was blown away with how much I enjoyed this. It was a roller coaster of emotions that made me laugh out and made me cry at some parts. It is a solid movie and I can't recommend it more.