The Water Diviner: Russell Crowe’s Directorial Debut
With all of the makings of an epic must-watch, Russell Crowe’s directorial debut, The Water Diviner, just doesn’t know what to do with the material at hand and as a result, it ends up overselling its already overly-sentimental premise.
Set in 1919, the story is centred on Joshua Connor (Crowe); a grieving Australian farmer who, along with his wife, Eliza (Mckenzie), is getting over the loss of their three sons, who have presumably, lost their lives in the famous Battle of Lone Pine at Gallipoli four years prior. The remains of their sons are yet to be found and after another tragedy strikes, Joshua – a man with an exceptional gift for locating water in the middle of Australia’s scorching desert – soon sets off for Turkey to find his boys and bring what’s left of them back home. With an incredible amount of hurdles to bear and obstacles to cross, Joshua soon puts his special gifts to the test, in the hope that they will lead him to what he is looking for.
Starting off as a quiet and a relatively subtle character-driven drama, The Water Diviner eventually develops into a full-blown adventure – a la Indiana Jones – and the film’s pacing is a bit off. The transitions are a little jumpy and there is an air of awkwardness and slushiness surrounding the story from beginning to end.
Fortunately, the story does manage to benefit from the works of the Lord of the Rings trilogy cinematographer, Andrew Lesnie, whose majestic touch provides The Water Diviner with a fantastical aesthetic quality. Crowe is solid as a man whose determination and courage will play at the heart strings of many, however, his ‘special’ abilities are never fully explored while the pairing and the chemistry between him and Kurylenko never fully registers.
All in all, The Water Diviner is neither spectacular nor awful; it’s an ambitious first run in the director’s chair for a man who was always going to move away from acting and take his (self-perceived) rightful place behind the camera. One can question, however, if Crowe’s directorial talents may have been better utilised, or even developed, had he also not cast himself in the lead role.