Water for Elephants Reviews
The movie starts off like a classic Nicolas Sparks romance movie with an elderly person that begins to tell the story of a lifelong adventure and then turns the movie into a flashback. Set in the 1930s and around the time of the Great Depression, Jacob Jankowski's (Robert Pattison) life takes a turn for the worst. With nothing left to his name but an old briefcase and a pair of trousers, he sets off to find a new life. Along the way, he meets a beautiful circus performer named Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), who is married to a cruel man named August (Christoph Waltz). August is the ringleader of the "Benzini Bros" circus. Throughout the movie, Jacob and Marlena form a love through a wise elephant named Rosie.
Something that really sets the scene for the circus centered movie is the animals. There are horses, lions, tigers, giraffes, and more, but one animal in particular gives Water for Elephants its name. Rosie is a circus elephant that gives the traveling "Benzini Bros" hope in the middle of the Great Depression. The circus did not have an elephant starring in any of their acts and when they needed more money, Rosie pulled through and brought in a larger audience. She also helped Jacob and Marlena grow closer and create the love story that makes this movie unique and even more beautiful. Anyone who watches this movie will easily grow to love Rosie the elephant.
Not only the animals, but everything else about the movie is beautifully done. The costumes that circus performer Marlena wears are just exquisite, as well as the other performers involved in different acts. The cinematography as a whole was perfect. Every scene is just as good as the last. They really do a good job of showing what it was like during the Depression era, as well as the chaotic circus life.
Another noteworthy aspect of the movie is the acting. Well-known for the Twilight series, Robert Pattison plays another well-written part. Robert really shows the passion through his lines, as if they were not scripted. He also does a great job of getting into his character. Reese Witherspoon, or Marlena, plays a beautiful circus performer. Marlena is someone who is very attached to the circus animals that perform with her, and Reese shows how loving Marlena is with the animals. Possibly the better acting of the movie is from Christoph Waltz, or August. He portrays the crazy circus ringleader amazingly. From the first impression of August, Christoph makes me think he is a good man, but as the movie progresses his character shows his true colors. August is cruel and even terrifying at times, and Christoph does a great job at portraying the "real" ringleader of the circus.
Overall, Water for Elephants is a movie worth the watch. Whether or not the viewer is into romance movies, they will be after this. Water for Elephants will make one feel a "circus" of emotions and it will not disappoint.
The underlying truth of animals were bent to man's wills through extreme force, insubordinate sacked workers routinely thrown from moving trains and the fear of bankruptcy was always just under the façade surface.
Capturing the beauty rather than the known travesty of this fascinating era is Sara Gruen's 2006, Water for Elephants. Brought to life in a stronger more streamlined screenplay, director Francis Lawrence grasps the grandeur of stage with both hands and deliver's a slow boiling old-fashioned story with minimal Hollywood sop and saccharine.
Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson) is an earnest and sensitive young man just about to sit his final exams in veterinary science at Cornell University when he receives news that his immigrant parents have died in a tragic car accident.
Penniless and aimless, Jacob decides to follow rumours of employment and the railway tracks into a cities. However, in a surprisingly convenient leap of luck, Jacob jumps a random train that's home to the fabulous Benzini Brothers Circus.
Starting off small in the big-top arena by shovelling poop and sweeping cages, Jacob quickly rises through the ranks by talking his way to the top as a practising vet and impressing struggling circus owner August Rosenbluth (Christoph Waltz).
Jacob's assent coinciding with the acquisition of a new star attraction, a stubborn 53 year old "bull" elephant named Rosie, brings distension as he must work closely with the beautifully intoxicating lead starlet Marlena (Reece Witherspoon) August's wife in coaxing Rosie into the spotlight.
Increasingly unstable and impatient August becomes obsessed with trumping the Ringling Brothers circus, ticket sales and the quick progression of Rosie's act. Brutally punishing her for her lack of performance, Augusts' iron fist-like rule drives a wedge between Marlena and himself, allowing the suspicion of an alluded relationship between the trusted vet and his wife to overwhelm.
Although presented as "one of the worst circus disasters in history" the only thing 'worst' about this is the off-kilter casting of the uncomfortable and unconvincing ex-prositute turned headliner Reece Witherspoon opposite moody money shot heartthrob attempting adult roles, Robert Pattinson aka R-Pattz.
Anchoring the whole production is the edgy and exemplary Christoph Waltz; personifying the glitz and glamour of subject whilst once again embracing the sadistic love-to-loathe characterisations of which he has down to a fine art.
Sadly, R-Pattz dullness is amplified not only by the misfortune of having to share so much screen time with his upstaging Oscar winning human co-stars; who share a wonderful and painful chemistry when onscreen together (the only time we see Witherspoon in her element), but an elephant co-star that understands polish and can put away enough whisky to make a sailor blush.
Another misstep is the exclusion of Gruen's great secondary characters, pushed aside for the sleeker story viewers miss out on some of the more rich and colourful carnies and the warm humour they brought to the book.
The Verdict: Suffering from is bland and lacklustre conclusion, Water for Elephants gives the illusion of complete package but fails to fully deliver, it is nice however to watch Waltz wipe the floor with R-Pattz, figuratively and literally.
Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 20/05/2011