Russell Crowe Debuts as Director in “The Water Diviner”
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Russell Crowe is considered a bad boy actor. A guy who, like Alec Baldwin or Sean Penn, might just take a swing at a paparazzo.
Maybe it’s that dangerous edge that creeps over into their film roles that makes us lean forward in our seats when they’re on screen.
You can test that theory by catching “The Water Diviner,” the new film starring (and directed by) Crowe. It’s currently playing at Tropic Cinema.
When I was a boy in the Appalachians it was common practice to hire a water diviner to tell you where to dig your well. Just because there was water to be found wherever you dug a hole was beside the point. Country folks believe in this art of divination using a willow switch or a fork from a tree branch or crossed rods to find water.
In this historical drama set in 1919, following World War II, an Australian farmer (Crowe) sets out to find his missing sons in Turkey. The boys (James Fraser, Ben O’Toole, and Ryan Corr) went there to serve with the Anzacs at the battle of Gallipoli but have not returned.
The farmer, who also has the gift of water divination, faces a series of hurtles while trying to locate his sons in Turkey. He has a face-off with Major Hassan (Yılmaz Erdoğan), survives a train attacked by the Greeks, and meets a sympathetic hotel proprietress (Olga Kurylenko).
This is Russell Crowe’s directing debut. If the film is successful it means he will get to bring more projects like this to Australia and not have to “commute” to work as much. He says getting on a plane no longer feels natural to him.
The stay-at-home actor likes being behind the camera. “Directing is like looking at the stars on a cloudless night,” he says. “You get away from all light sources and you look up and you see 50 points of light. And a minute later 100 and another minute later 1,000 and then 10,000. And then this swirling gigantic carpet above you and somehow it all seems to connect.”