A grieving father searches for his missing sons after the battle of Gallipoli.
Acting titan Russell Crowe makes his directorial debut with The Water Diviner, an old-school romantic war epic which stirs the emotions in the appropriate ways but also smacks hugely of a vanity project.
Crowe has clearly seen an epic or two, and festoons his film with big skies and big feels. He’s got the war scenes and the heart-wrenching tale of three young brothers caught in the horror of Gallipoli. There’s a trip to Turkey in 1919, a comely lady (Olga Kurylenko) with a complicated past and some interrogation of the race relations of the time.
It’s a fairly attractive production which clearly has some cash behind it, and Crowe himself brings a kind of leaden authority to proceedings as the leads, while his character forcefully shies away from any of the more violent tendencies he’s shown on film before.
Everything is in place then, but its all a bit dull, despite scenes where Crowe measures up to massed ranks of armed forces. The love story patters between twee and non-existent and he doesn’t quite know how to judge the most harrowing scenes, almost pushing over into tastelessness.
Still, it’s mostly watchable and should scratch that specific itch for fans of overwrought period drama, with some lovely scenery and the odd bit of scene chewing.