Divine intervention that has Crowe calling the shots at Royston Picture Palace

The Water Diviner

The Water Diviner - Credit: Archant

Two handsome star vehicles which have only just been on nationwide release make up the bill of fare at Royston’s Picture Palace this week.

First up on Friday night is a very personal project for rough, tough Russell Crowe.

The Water Diviner, showing at 7.30pm, is the Gladiator star’s first film as a director as he also stars in front of the camera – a move which doubtless helped win a green light for the project.

Its release in cinemas was timed to mark the centenary of the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign in the First World War, when so many Australian troops died in a vain attempt to earn the Allies an important strategic foothold in Turkey.

Three of the soldiers listed as missing in action are farmer Russell’s sons, and he turns up at the scene in the aftermath of the war to try and find out what happened to his boys.

His determined search means he is soon ruffling feathers, but he refuses to give up on his quest.

It’s a solid and stirring tale with the gruff star pulling out all the stops in front of the camera even if he seems less assured in calling the shots behind it.

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That’s followed on Saturday night by Child 44, a serial killer thriller set behind the Iron Curtain during the grim Stalin era. Tom Hardy plays a security officer who uncovers a series of child murders and is determined to investigate, even though his bosses are much more inclined to brush the crimes under the carpet. Gary Oldman and Noomi Rapace also feature in this chunky take on T. Rob Smith’s book, with Ridley Scott producing and Daniel ‘Safe House’ Espinosa in the director’s chair.

To book tickets for the 7.30pm screenings, visit www.roystonpicturepalace.org.uk.

On the general release front, the big movie of the week is San Andreas, in which helicopter pilot Dwayne Johnson – no longer former wrestler The Rock as he continues to build his acting career – embarks on a hazardous mission to rescue his daughter after a huge earthquake strikes the California coast. Watch out for Kylie Minogue, Ioan Gruffudd and Paul Giamatti in the supporting cast.

You should also be able to catch Man Up, a short sharp comedy with Simon Pegg taking the lead in a rom-com as a recent divorcee who hits it off with an American visitor when he mistakes her for his blind date. There are plenty of familiar TV faces involved, and director Ben Palmer was the man behind The Inbetweeners Movie.