This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Russell Crowe in a scene from "The Water Diviner." (Mark Rogers/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Making his directorial debut with the brawny and big-hearted Australian war drama “The Water Diviner,” Russell Crowe taps a deep well of symbolism, cultural empathy and good old-fashioned storytelling. Crowe, who also stars as a grieving father stoically bulldozing through Turkey in search of three sons missing in action after the World War I battle at Gallipoli, is on shakier ground with a gooey romantic subplot, which brings to mind the actor’s out-of-his-element performance in the Ridley Scott rom-com “A Good Year.” With the centenary of Anzac — Australia’s WWI commemorative holiday — commemorations on the horizon, Australians will likely clasp this locally made, handsomely mounted melodrama to their collective bosom. Overseas prospects are less promising, despite the presence of the thinking man’s Bond girl Olga Kurylenko (“Quantum of Solace”) and a wealth of exotic, postcard-pretty locales.

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