For his movie directorial debut, Russell Crowe has chosen an event sacred to Australians. The landing of our troops at Gallipoli, 100 years ago, and the events that followed still resonate deep within us all. It was always going to be a tough ask.
When Joshua Connor (Crowe) and Eliza (McKenzie) lose all 3 sons on the same day at Gallipoli, their world falls apart. Eliza never recovers from her loss and when she takes her own life out of grief, Joshua vows to find their sons and bring them all back home.
With nothing more than a muddy diary and a will of iron, he sets off for Turkey to honour his promise to his wife.
Once in Turkey, he is befriended by the adorably impish Orhan (Georgiades) who leads him to their family hotel. Here he meets and later becomes enamoured of the boy’s mother, young widow Ayshe (Kurylenko). Ayshe helps Connor make his way to the shores of Gallipoli where Australian troops are trying to locate and bury our dead soldiers.
The Aussie Lieutenant-Colonel Hughes (Courtney) does not want Joshua traipsing all over the battleground looking for his sons and it is the Turkish Major Hasan (Erdogan) who points out he was the only father to come looking and thus, should be allowed to at least try to find his sons. Hasan and his next in command Jemal (Yilmaz) are ultimately the ones who help Connor on his quest.
There are a few things that stand out for me with this movie….
This movie’s cinematography is breathtaking. From the open, sweeping plains of rural Australia to the ancient city of Istanbul with its bustling markets and gorgeous mosques, the uniqueness of each country is captured in exquisite detail.
The war scenes, particularly the aftermath with its long silences broken only by the sounds of wounded and dying men crying out into the night, was harrowing and distressing for me. They are not overly violent, it’s the realness, the close proximity that got to me.
This brings me to the story itself. Yes this is an Aussie story but we hear the Turk’s perspective, how they felt about their homeland being invaded and divided up. There was no blame here, just a story from each side. It was all handled with subtlety and grace. I also enjoyed the not-so-subtle jabs at the Poms every so often too.
I loved this movie. I do feel that it strayed from its course at times… did we really need all those candles and an intimate dinner or that long train ride and subsequent fighting? No we did not….
But at its heart, it is a story of love, hope, courage and salvation. That Joshua was prepared to sacrifice everything to honour a promise to his wife was a tribute to the love he had for his family. I really hope people make the time to see this movie and show support for our local industry.
4 out of 5 stars
Love Flick xx
Director : Russell Crowe
Starring : Jai Courtney, Olga Kurylenko, Russell Crowe, Jacqueline McKenzie, Cem Yilmaz, Yilmaz Erdogan, Robert Mammone, Dan Wylie, James Fraser, Dylan Georgiades, Steve Bastoni, Ben O’Toole, Ryan Corr
Running Time : 111 minutes
Release Date : 26 December 2014