‘The Water Diviner:’ a Sad Attempt to Entertain

I’m going to try to be as nice as I can. With a more than mediocre attempt at directing for the first time, Russell Crowe still manages to portray a seemingly decent acting role in his directorial debut of “The Water Diviner.”

Movie critic Evan Engel gave the 111-minute film, released on April 24, one out of five possible stars.   Photo courtesy of "The Water Diviner" movie website.
Movie critic Evan Engel gave the 111-minute film, released on April 24, one out of five possible stars.
Photo courtesy of “The Water Diviner” movie website.

Even Crowe’s acting ability couldn’t save this film from its inevitable outcome. Set right after World War I, this film follows Joshua Connor (Crowe) as he mourns the loss of his three sons who are all presumed dead after enlisting in the war for Australia.  His wife takes their deaths even harder and ultimately commits suicide.

Connor is thrown off by the events, but decides to follow through with his promise to his wife to find their final resting places. How might he go about finding them you may ask? Through his random, mystical ability to find water. Seriously.

In the opening scenes, Connor is on his farmland with metal wire rods that point to the direction where ground water is. He eventually finds his mark in the land and starts digging until, you guessed it, he finds water.  Our water diviner is going to find his sons based on his incredible intuition.

Upon arriving in Constantinople, Joshua stays at a hotel where he meets Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko), a Turkish, widowed mother whose husband was killed in the war. She is detested that an Australian would even dare try to stay there at first, but her husband’s brother insists he lodges there since they can’t suffer profit losses.  She begins to change her perspective on Connor once she learns he is there to find his lost sons.  Ayshe can relate since she has a young boy herself, who quickly befriends Joshua as well.

Once his journey begins, and after several quick cuts to the night, his three sons presumably died. The movie really starts to slow down. Unfortunately, it stays that way for the rest of the film too. The slow pacing is a big problem for this movie, but I blame the screenwriters for that – not Crowe’s directing.

On top of the movie’s turtle pace, I caught several editing mistakes along with some ill prepared directing that took me out of the historical world I was supposed to be enveloped in.  You can’t blame Crowe for trying to direct for the first time after working with some of Hollywood’s best in the past.

While the movie has its many flaws, there are still a few good things to make note of. Some of the war scenes are pretty intense and filled with loud sound effects that really help put you there in the scene. Also, there’s a lot of great exposure to Turkish culture such as music, dancing, foods and language.

The movie’s conceptualized premise of placing recent enemies together after the battle was a great idea. There are some tense scenes in the area where both sides are trying to find the dead bodies of their lost men.  It all sounds great on paper until you actually see it though.

As for the cinematography, it wasn’t the best since some of the shots don’t look real (that could be the camera’s fault).  The costumes were a little bit off as well. Each time I’d see a Greek soldier,  I thought they were swashbucklers straight out of “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

Let’s just say this movie relied more on gut feelings rather than logic to help keep the plot moving in each scene.  Every time something happens or a decision is made, you’re pretty much forced to just go with it and say, “Well, okay then.”

The film constantly flashbacks to the night the three boys died since Joshua somehow has their journal.  The reason they continue to show you bits and pieces of it throughout were not only for the sad attempt to entertain us but also to show that this movie isn’t about the heroism of battle. Instead, it’s about the losses and destruction of war for everyone involved.

One star may seem pretty rough, but if you decide to waste your money on this film too, then you would feel the same way I did walking out.


Evan Engel
Evan Engel is a communication major with an emphasis in film and television production. He hopes to pursue a career in screenwriting and directing.

Evan Engel
Freelance Writer
Published April 29th, 2015