Saturday, May 21, 2011
Water for Elephants
An elderly man (Hal Holbrook)is found wandering the grounds of a circus and is taken in to the office by the manager (Paul Schneider) to contact his home. The man begins to talk about his life in the circus and so begins Water for Elephants. It's the story of Jacob (Robert Pattinson) a promising young veterinary student who is pulled out of his finals to hear the tragic news that his parents have been killed. Jacob leaves and finds the circus. He is taken in by the workers and is quickly elevated to the status of vet by the circus ringmaster Auguste (Christophe Waltz), and falls in love with his enchanting wife, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon). The path of true love never did run smooth however, and when Auguste acquires an elephant as his star attraction, it becomes apparent just how cruel the ringmaster can be. There is a lot to like about this film, and there's a certain amount not to like about this film. Let's start with the positives. It looks beautiful. Robert Pattinson can act and it's so refreshing to see him smiling and animated rather than all moodiness and fangs. Christoph Waltz again shows his acting prowess with a powerhouse performance as the cruel, conflicted Auguste. The supporting actors are good and although the story is gentle, it's well crafted and keeps you entertained. The film also give a fascinating insight into the circus life that people rarely see. Now the cons. I like Reese Witherspoon but she doesn't really come across so well as someone to instantly capture a young man's heart. I feel there is a coldness, almost prudishness to her acting. She is a good actor, but not quite right for this role. Not enough heart. Although her clothes are fabulous. There are also some terrible scenes of animal cruelty which are disturbing. Obviously they are CGI but nevertheless, animals were used in this film, and I have a problem with that. Whilst I am sure they were not mistreated, it does make you think of all those poor creatures in times gone by, and still used today for the amusement of humans. A good advertisement for non-animal circuses. This film could have been one of the greatest love stories of the decade. Unfortunately it isn't because the romance just never manages to convince, Marlena just doesn't come across as being as head over heels as Jacob is. Maybe that's the recipe for true love. WATER FOR ELEPHANTS: Roll up, Roll up. Throw your hat into the ring and go and see it. 7/10.