The Water Diviner

When big Hollywood stars decide they want to direct, they often gravitate toward ambitious period dramas, whether they’re Kevin Costner (Dances With Wolves), Robert De Niro (The Good Shepherd), Ben Affleck (Argo), Angelina Jolie (Unbroken), or Russell Crowe, who makes his directing debut with this impressive World War I story. He stars as an Australian farmer whose three teenage sons have all been reported killed in the Gallipoli campaign; after his despairing wife commits suicide, he resolves to recover the boys’ bodies from Turkey and bury them at home with their mother. Some formulaic elements creep into the story—principally the farmer’s deepening relationship with a Turkish war widow (Olga Kurylenko) and her moppet son—but it’s anchored by the grim realities of the first modern war and a sweeping humanism reminiscent of Jean Renoir’s Grand Illusion. The stunning location photography is by Andrew Lesnie.