Boasting the visual opulence of a cross-continental spread and the historical gravitas of World War I, this drama-adventure nevertheless fails to engage, move or inspire, proving that debut director Russell Crowe still has some way to go as a storyteller. Based on the true story of a family man from Australia who ventures into the turbulent political hot zone of post-war Turkey to find his missing sons, one suspects the potential for an emotions and adrenalin-filled ride is there. Sadly, such promise is not to be, for the film is doubly dulled by a lack of focus and the plainness of its voice. Subplots that don’t go anywhere get picked up and dropped off with little consideration for timing. The blandly benevolent tone used to describe forgiveness, reconciliation and a burgeoning romance lends the proceedings an overall sense of limitation despite the obvious grandness of their scale. The movie does feature striking imagery, with the baffling geometrical wonders of a mosque interior and the stunning shades of light thrown by the setting sun gloriously captured on fine, dusty lens. But all that beauty ultimately can’t make up for the low stakes, the weak pulse and the punch that never comes.
The Water Diviner | Directed by Russell Crowe (Australia, Turkey, USA 2014) with Jai Courtney, Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko. Starts May 7.
Originally published in Issue #138, May 2015.