The Water Diviner

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Water Diviner Movie Poster Image
Violent WWI-era drama wastes story's potential.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 111 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Relentless persistence is eventually rewarded. The many serious costs of war are examined. Other themes include loss, grief, and geopolitical issues.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Connor is a devoted father and husband who travels across the globe to bring his dead sons' bodies home. He's won't be dissuaded, and he takes significant risks to achieve his goal.


Many graphic battle sequences (it's set during/after World War I). Men are shot with machine guns and blown up by bombs. Intense hand-to-hand combat scenes show people desperately fighting each other with anything at hand. Dead bodies are shown on the battlefield, including close-ups of people with limbs blown off and faces completely mangled by shrapnel and bullets.


A man and a woman flirt. Hints that a woman is a prostitute; a man, presumably a client, waits outside her door. A group of soldiers bathes in the sea; some are seen from behind, nude.




Occasional strong language includes "bastard," "bugger," "ass," and "s--t."


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink hard liquor in several scenes. At one point, a group of men shares drinks and then begins boisterously singing and dancing. Some smoking (accurate for the era).


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Water Diviner is a World War I-era drama that doesn't shy away from the tragic cost of war, showing how soldiers and their families are affected physically, mentally, and emotionally -- that is, if they're lucky enough to stay alive. Though one of the main characters is a young boy, the film is better suited for teens and older, given the intense subject (many graphic war/battle/fighting scenes, plus themes including suicide, widowhood, and complex geopolitical issues). Expect some swearing ("bastard," "s--t," etc.), mild flirting, drinking, era-accurate smoking, and many scenes showing men shot and killed, with their limbs torn off and faces mangled.

User Reviews

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Teen, 15 years old Written bySpencer15 June 25, 2015

The Water Diviner

Russell Crowe did goo directing this movie but did an even better job by being the main character in it. The Water Diviner is the saddest movie I have ever seen... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old June 5, 2016

Lackluster but smart and interesting movie is violent but fine for teens.

My rating:PG-13 for war violence, disturbing images, brief nudity, and drug use.

What's the story?

Joshua Connor (Russell Crowe, who also directed) is an Australian farmer -- and a grieving father who lost three sons in World War I during the disastrous invasion of Gallipoli. (The film's title comes, presumably, from Connor's talent for finding water under arid soil, mostly by feel.) After his wife dies, too, Connor vows to bring their sons' bodies home to be buried next to their mother, so he sets off for Turkey, where thousands of soldiers' remains are still on the battlefield right where they died. In Istanbul, Connor is befriended by a young Turkish boy, though his mother (Olga Kurylenko) is initially hostile and unwelcoming, because her husband was also killed in the war.

Is it any good?

The best part of THE WATER DIVINER is Crowe, who reminds us again of his depth as a performer. Here, his portrayal of a mournful father determined to find his sons and, perhaps, himself is imbued with so much compassion and handled with much dexterity that he makes it watchable, despite the film being a frustrating enterprise overall.

That's because we wish Crowe had had more discipline as a director. In that role, he's prone to indulging a romantic subplot that truly doesn't need to be there, even if its characters are appealing and interesting. (Thank you, Kurylenko.) It's a distraction from what's already an engrossing tale of grief on both a personal and global scale. And then the last 20 minutes veer into buddy-action comedy territory, another error that strains the film's credibility. The Water Diviner had the potential to be a story of war and its exacting costs told on an intimate scale, but unfortunately, it makes false moves that dilute its power.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about grieving. How do the characters in The Water Diviner deal with loss? Why are some people more willing to accept death than others?


  • How does this movie compare to other films about war? Do the battle sequences seem realistic? Are they too graphic? What do you think the filmmakers' intent was?


  • What would you say the movie's main message is? How does it make that point?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama and action

Themes & Topics

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