In 1915 war was taking place between the British and Turks in Gallipoli and after seven months the Anzac troops left the country. Four years later in Australia Connor (Russell Crowe) and his dog is out on the countryside searching for water. When he returns home to his wife Eliza (Jacqueline McKenzie) she asks him as always to read to the three boys a bedtime story. Connor does even though he knows the boys are lost and eventually so is Eliza. Art (Ryan Corr), Henry (Ben O’Toole) and Edward (James Fraser) all went off to fight in the Gallipoli war only not to return and Connor was determined to discover why.
With some information he collected from the boy’s diary Connor traveled to Istanbul where he stayed at a local hotel and met the beautiful manager Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko) and her son Orhan (Dylan Georgiades). Connor took an immediate interest in Orhan who became his friend and source of travel information but he took another interest in Ayshe as did she in him. Her husband never returned from the war and she could not accept the fact that he may be dead but she knew there was comfort in the eyes of Connor. Connor had one true journey to face ahead which was to travel to Gallipoli and locate his three boys lost from war. The British government would not accommodate his wishes so Connor took other methods of travel unknown to the war offices.
Once in Gallipoli which harbored nothing but ghosts and the bones of fallen soldiers he met Lt-Col Cyril Hughes (Jai Courtney) who had one goal which was to send this father back to his own country. Hughes thought it was impossible to locate his son’s bodies but with the help of the enemy Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdogan) and Cemal (Cem Yilmaz) Connor made it to the area in which his boys died. On August 7, 1915 his boys died in battle together yet the bones of only two of his sons were found meaning that one of his sons could still be alive.
Connor needed to travel to another part of the country but due to a new war between the Turks and the Greeks he needed the help of Major Hasan and his men. After a train ride into the countryside many of the soldiers did not survive to reach their final destination. Yet after a fast horse ride away from the enemy Connor finds a wind mill and the hopes of reunion with his only living son. In death, “Climb on to the carpet. Say take me home and close your eyes” upon these words the suffering stopped for one brother but the mental torture started for another in life. When a decision had to be made as to live together or die together as Connor and his son fled the Greek army one man finds out his future in a cup of coffee. In the first World War 37 million people died with 8 million missing between 1914 to 1918 yet one lone man found his last remaining blood line in a faraway place fighting a mindless war for power.
I thought the film was intriguing with nice direction from Crowe although I did tend to think the film was a bit too much chopped up between the flashbacks and the current time. The writers I thought lacked in character development which made it difficult for the audience to get attached to the characters other than Crowe, let alone the war in Gallipoli. It obviously has its breath-taking moments with a well-developed score and some cinematic back drops but I still felt like it was missing the mark as a must see film at the theater. Crowe does a nice job showing his strengths and vulnerable sides of his character. Kurylenko was not only nice to look at but also a nice support to Crowe’s character. Georgiades was a delight to watch and even though Corr does not have a huge speaking role as well as Fraser and O’Toole they all did well as the reason for one man’s journey. Erdogan and Yilmaz along with their group of extras added intensity yet overall the story seemed a bit lost to me at times. Overall it tells a story that many may not know of while honoring the soldiers at war. Written and appreciated for its meaning with 2 paws out of four by Jon Patch.