Russell Crowe is my gluten: I’m fucking intolerant. It’s bad for me. It’s not going to sit well, and it sure as heck isn’t gonna end well. So why? Why do I do it? Because his personal life is a little loathsome to me? I mean, if that were my criteria, what movie would possibly be left for me to watch? I can’t possibly avoid them all. I can’t stop watching Gwyneth Paltrow movies just because Gwyneth is too goopy. Okay, bad example. I do avoid Gwyneth Paltrow — I was going to say like the plague, but that’s offensive. I’ve never even met the plague. It’s a horrible cliché for one thing, and it’s also woefully irrelevant. In fact, I do nothing to avoid the plague. I don’t have to. I do, however, have to actively filter Gwyneth Paltrow from my movie going experiences. So if I ever do meet the plague, I suppose I will avoid it like Gwyneth Paltrow.
Anyway, wasn’t I reviewing a movie?
Right. Russell Crowe stars in and directs this little ditty, and I’m calling it a little ditty to trivialize it a bit, even though it’s an emotional movie about the death of your children, and the horrors of war. But it’s also got enough technical problems to make most movie studios embarrassed. You’d think. Certainly someone who’s been in the industry as long as Crowe in should know better.
Even I can admit he gives a pretty good performance as a grief-stricken father – he sent all 3 sons to the battle of Gallipoli (World War 1) and none made it back. His wife can’t cope so he promises her that he’ll bring them back to be buried in consecrated ground in Australia. He’s not super welcome in Turkey, where resentments are still oozing, but he’s convinced that he can find his sons the same way he finds water – by divining them.
It’s not a complete disaster but it lacks heart, and you sense how powerful this was supposed to be so all you can taste is the failure. I wish someone better had done this movie. The battle scenes felt very low-budget. I could practically see the red price tags and the clearance-rack roots. At the same time, it also provided That Moment in the movie when you stop and take notice. All these young men, mown down but not effectively killed, lie on the ground all night, waiting to die with no one coming for them, alone in their agony. And we just hear the groans and moans of unadulterated pain, and it chilled me like no amount of blood and guts and gore ever could.