You know him as a surly lunk of slab-faced Aussie manhood. But Russell Crowe shows his squishy side as the director of this soft-hearted war melodrama.
He also stars as Connor, a farmer whose three sons are missing presumed dead on the WWI battlefield of Gallipoli. Coming on like Liam Neeson without the leather jacket, four years later he travels to Turkey, dad-on-a-mission style, to bring home the bodies of his boys. Once there, he encounters the obligatory sneering British officer who orders him back to Australia.
Crowe has worked with some of the best, and it’s rubbed off. ‘The Water Diviner’ is solid and old-fashioned – the kind of film you can imagine watching with the family on Boxing Day, eyes half-closed. And it’s even-handed, showing the Turkish side of the story. Directing gives Crowe plenty of chances to show off his chiselled, rock-hard-at-50 physique. But the film pulls in too many directions – including a soppy, sappy romance with a young Turkish war widow (Olga Kurylenko) who reads his future in a coffee cup. Still, it might be overdone, but it’s never boring.