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Russell Crowe
Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko, Yilmaz Erdogan, Cem Yilmaz, Jai Courtney
Writing Credits:
Andrew Knight and Andrew Anastasios

An Australian man travels to Turkey after the Battle of Gallipoli to try and locate his three missing sons.

Box Office:
$22.5 million.
Opening Weekend
$1,220,335 on 320 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 111 min.
Price: $44.95
Release Date: 7/28/2015

• “The Making of The Water Diviner” Featurette
• “The Battle of Gallipoli” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Water Diviner [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 26, 2015)

With 2015’s The Water Diviner, Russell Crowe makes his directorial debut. Set in 1919, we meet Joshua Connor (Crowe), an Australian farmer whose three sons fought in the 1915 Battle of Gallipoli.

All three of the Connor boys went missing in action. Though presumed dead, this lack of resolution gnaws at his distraught wife Lizzie (Jacqueline McKenzie). She eventually kills herself and leaves Joshua on his own.

With nothing left to lose, Joshua decides to venture to Turkey in an attempt to discover the fates of his children. We trace Joshua’s journey and what he learns along the way.

When I read that Diviner became Crowe’s first directing credit, that surprised me. After all, he’s been a movie actor for decades now, and he’s been a major star ever since 2000’s Gladiator. Why did Crowe wait until he turned 50 to step behind the camera?

Whatever caused Crowe to take so long, he does a decent job with Diviner, though not one that lacks concerns. Two of the movie’s choices create the biggest problems.

First, the story strays from Joshua’s point of view too much of the time. While it usually focuses on his perspective, the tale occasionally leaps to others, and I think this doesn’t work. As a voyage of discovery, we should stick with the lead and not venture into the realms of others. These shifts don’t ruin the film, but they can lead it off-course.

In addition, the color scheme of Diviner flops miserably. Perhaps because I’ve been so beaten down by Hollywood’s fascination with teal and orange, palette decisions don’t usually impact my enjoyment of a film, but in this case, the hues marred the presentation.

As I’ll mention in my discussion of the movie’s picture quality, Diviner goes with a heavily stylized palette that mixes orange, teal and yellow. These hues make little sense within the story’s context and they become an active distraction. When color choices take me out of the narrative, that’s a problem, and Diviner’s palette harms the end result.

Other than these two mistakes, Diviner works reasonable well, largely due to Crowe’s solid lead performance. He creates a deep, understated personality, one that keeps the film grounded despite occasional aimlessness. Without Crowe’s acting, I suspect the movie would’ve been substantially less satisfying.

I also think the basic story of Diviner becomes a strength. As Joshua delves into his journey, we find ourselves invested in his activities and interested in where all this will lead him. Will his sons all be dead as expected or will he encounter a joyous surprise? The movie doesn’t telegraph these possibilities, and that makes it more effective.

Admittedly, I could live without the subplot that relates to the Turkish family with whom Joshua stays, especially since this topic opens up to potentially sentimental and gloopy developments. A few other dodgy story areas crop up along the way as well.

While the various missteps prevent Diviner from becoming a consistently satisfying movie, I think it has a decent array of positives.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

The Water Diviner appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a strong visual presentation.

When I go into a period piece like Diviner, I expect a stylized palette, but not the choices made here. Instead of the semi-sepia I anticipated, Diviner went with a combination of yellow, orange and teal tints. I don’t think the colors work for this story, but the Blu-ray reproduces them well. Blacks seemed deep and firm, while low-light shots demonstrated good clarity.

Sharpness satisfied. Excerpt for a smidgen of softness in a few interiors, the movie showed nice clarity and delineation. No shimmering or jaggies occurred, and I witnessed no edge haloes. Print flaws also remained absent. I felt pleased with this image.

Since most of Diviner focused on a character story, it didn’t come with tons of room for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack to shine. Nonetheless, it occasionally popped to life – especially at the start, where we find ourselves immersed in the Battle of Gallipoli. Those moments and a few subsequent war sequences brought us a good sense of the action.

The rest of the mix seemed more subdued but still satisfactory. General atmosphere ruled the day and created a nice sense of place. The package meshed together in a satisfying manner.

Audio quality also seemed good. Speech remained distinctive and concise, without edginess or other concerns. Music appeared full and rich, while effects showed good oomph and accuracy. I thought the soundtrack fit the story.

The disc presents two featurettes. The Making of The Water Diviner runs 21 minutes, 48 seconds. It offers info from director/actor Russell Crowe, key horse wrangler Grahame Ware, VTR assistant Jonathan Baker, makeup/hair supervisor Jennifer Lamphee, costume designer Tess Schofield, stunt coordinator Zen Eleftherion, stunt coordinator Doug Coleman, armourer Thell Reed, South Sydney Rabbitohs chairman Nick Pappas, editor Matt Villa, composers David Hirschfelder and Richard Tognetti, and actors Jai Courtney, Ryan Corr, Steve Bastoni, Benedict Hardie, Cem Yilmaz, James Fraser, Olga Kurylenko, Robert Mammone, Yilmaz Erdogan, Jacqueline McKenzie, and Dylan Georgiades.

“Making” looks at the project’s roots and development, story/character domains, cast and performances, training, stunts and action, sets and locations, costumes and makeup, weapons, editing/effects, score, and Crowe’s work as director. This isn’t the most substantial program, but it gives us a good array of facts behind the movie’s creation.

The Battle of Gallipoli goes for seven minutes, 52 seconds and includes comments from Crowe, Yilmaz and Courtney. We get a basic look at the historical elements that become prominent in the film. The show brings us a short but efficient recap.

The disc opens with an ad for The Man from UNCLE (2015). A trailer for Diviner shows up at the end of the “Making of” featurette.

As Russell Crowe’s directorial debut, The Water Diviner becomes a respectable effort. A few notable missteps harm the project but it comes with enough positives to keep us involved. The Blu-ray brings us positive picture and audio but lacks substantial bonus materials. Diviner doesn’t become anything great, but it’s a moderately compelling effort.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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