Friday, 17 April 2015


A senseless strain for profundity overshadows and undermines The Water Diviner, a film produced apparently entirely on the back of its director's misplaced ambition. Grand vistas, exotic locales and old-school stories of romance and war do not amount to classic, compelling filmmaking, no matter how earnest their delivery may be. It's that earnestness that shows Russell Crowe up, revealing quite clearly his inadequacies behind the camera, though it does frame him as a humble figure, something which he's not shy on exploiting in front of the camera. What that amounts to is a small degree of sympathy - certainly not sufficient to excuse the amateur direction that infuses 95% of The Water Diviner, but sufficient to engender some simple, touching moments, characterised by an unfussy quality that Crowe is obviously striving for. You come to slightly pity him for his tendency to skew gauche in his sensibilities, and that pity may soften your heart a little. My heart, alas, remained far too hard to excuse much - not the hasty cutting, not the awkward ADR, not the syrupy score, not the confused mise-en-scene with its ugly lighting and its resolute ignorance toward camera placement... there's far too much to excuse, and not enough excuses. Merely aping the classic dramas of 70-odd years ago doesn't cut it, not when you've little new to contribute yourself, and little skill to replicate them. The Water Diviner wants very badly to be a grand, monumental feature; its finest traits are its cutest, its quietest, and its most accidental - indeed, the traits it barely even knows exist.