Set in the wake of the First World War, Crowe plays Connor, a beleaguered father who is attempting to overcome the likely death of his three sons, who fought in the Battle of Gallipoli – and never returned home, a tragedy which got the better of his wife Eliza (Jacqueline McKenzie). With nothing left for him in Australia, Connor sets off to Turkey, in a bid to find the bodies of his three sons and return them back home to be buried next to their mother. However it’s no easy task for one man to undertake – and so he requires the assistance of hotel owner Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko), and Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdogan).
Crowe has certainly not embarrassed himself with this outing, proving to be an accomplished piece of filmmaking – just not a particularly special one. The story is remarkable and profound, however the way the tale has been presented and told is too cliched, devaluing the poignancy attached to this narrative. Much of that derives from Andrew Knight and Andrew Anastasios’ mediocre screenplay, as they lose sight of the crux of this narrative, and what we care about; the father searching for his sons. However surrounding that are mawkish, superfluous moments that though working as mere filler, sadly end up taking up the majority of this feature, such as the entirely superfluous romantic sub-plot that has been included.
What doesn’t quite help bring the dialogue to life, are the somewhat dodgy accents too, with Kurylenko the biggest culprit. In her first scene, where she is supposed to be speaking Turkish, it’s so badly dubbed it looks more like a foreign advert for bio yoghurts. Nonetheless, there is an emotional core to this film, and Crowe just about maintains the intimacy amidst the grandiosity, and the epic, implicative themes explored. This may be about a war which took millions of lives – but we manage to focus our attention on this one man and his own personal tragedy. If anything, Connor is emblematic of the horrors of this war, as we use his journey as a catalyst, a way in to explore the dearth and destruction, in a similar vein to the likes of War Horse.
It’s also nice to look at the First World War from a different perspective, and, generally speaking, a strand of it many of us will know less about. However you do leave the cinema feeling like reading up on the matter – because this picture focuses too much of its energy on being just a piece of entertainment, than anything remotely educational.