The Dallas Movie Screening Group

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Water Diviner

In Russell Crowe's directorial debut, in which he also stars, tells the story of an Australian farmer who travels to Turkey after the Battle of Gallipoli to locate his three missing sons. It was based on the book by Andrew Anastasios and Dr. Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios, with the screenplay written by Andrew Anastasios and Andrew Knight. It's a gorgeously photographed quiet film that speaks of a father's love and faith. But not a whole lot of water divining.

Except mainly at the beginning of the movie when Joshua Conner shows his knack for digging wells in the dry farmland of his ranch in Australia. It's 1919, five years since the end of WWI, and his wife Eliza (Jacqueline McKenzie) has not been able to cope with the loss of her children. When she commits suicide, Conner promises to bring her sons back to be buried with their mother.

When he arrives in Turkey, a young hustler (Dylan Georgiades) steals his suitcase to bring him to a hotel in Istanbul run by his widowed mother Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko). Her husband may have been killed in the war, but she keeps hope that he's still alive. There's the issue of her having to marry her husband's uncle who owns the hotel once she's officially gone into mourning. Conner meets up with the British consul who refuses him permission to travel to Gallipoli. Ayshe suggests bribing a fisherman to bring him there by boat. When he gets there, the ANZAC's are there and assigned to identify and bury the victims of the war. Turkish officer Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdo─čan) is assisting the ANZAC captain Lt.Col Cyril Hughes (Jai Courtney) with the major battle locations. He persuades Hughes to help out Conner, because basically he's the only person who came to look for their loved ones.

Flashbacks are used to show the closeness of the brother's that was encouraged by their parents to watch over each other. Arthur (Ryan Corr) is the oldest, tries to save his brothers Edward (James Fraser) and Henry (Ben O'Toole), but they refused to run when he's injured during a battle. He watches both of the die while he lays between them. Conner discovers that Arthur may have been taken to a prison camp. When he tries to get help from the British consul, they take his passport and tell him he's going home on the next boat. On top of that the country is still going through political unrest as other countries try to divide Turkey for control. The Greeks have been attacking in the countryside, causing his journey even more problems.

The horrific effects of the war which was done brilliantly in the Mel Gibson movie Galliopli, is covered well here. Conner has to fight with Turkish nationals, the British and the Greeks while searching for his son. It's a meandering process, wading through the subdued budding romance of Ayshe and Conner when she sees his future by reading his coffee grounds. Before that she hated foreigners who ruined her country. And apparently Conner's divining skills is good at finding his sons. Nice to look at if you are not snoozing through it.
(Review by reesa)

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  1. Oh my. Don't miss this one. A saga covering two continents and a quest any good father would gladly undertake. Acting is believable ... the story line unique. I'm sooo glad I watched this movie. it will linger with the viewer a long time after the TV is turned off.

  2. Very good movie, both touching the heart and hitting the gut...

    Telling the story took courage because it depicts the Turks in a positive light, especially in the context of the conquest war waged by the Greeks in the aftermath of WW1.