An Australian man loses all three of his sons and his wife due to World War I. Russell Crowe stars in and directs this tale of love and loss in Turkey after the Battle of Gallipoli. Like most products of an American Education, I couldn’t find Gallipoli on a map and I had no idea there was a big battle there in WWI. Of course, the Turks feel about the British much as the Arabs feel about Americans today-why the hell are you here if you’re not even interested in taking over?
Modern parallels aside, the story is a pretty gripping one. Our hero leaves his home in the middle of nowhere and travels for three months to get to another middle of nowhere. But the architecture is nicer in Istanbul than in the Outback. Russell wanders around, makes friends with the Enemy, falls for a local widow, and finds the bones of his sons. We see the horrible conditions of the battle and the brutality of their deaths in flashbacks that our semi-clairvoyant father shares.
The bad guys are British Army Officers who are sticklers for the rules and fez wearing Turks who want the world to go back to the way it was before the War. Russell meets with opposition, but keeps going forward anyway.
The Water Divener is a good looking film with a lot of great costumes and a lot of great shots of vast open spaces and crowded city streets. There was a pretty poorly done CGI sandstorm, but otherwise the film was free of bad special effects. The actors were all good and the ending was very satisfying. I liked this film a lot.
Russell Crowe is a little older and a little softer around the middle these days, but he’s still Russell Crowe and still worth watching on screen.