Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz, Hal Holbrook
Plot: Set in 1931, Water For Elephants focuses on young Jacob Jankowski, an aspiring animal vet whose parents suddenly die in a car accident and now finds himself homeless when the bank forecloses his house. He hitches a ride onboard a train belonging to a travelling circus and gets a job as their animal vet, and subsequently falls in love with the circus' top star, the beautiful Marlena. However this puts him at odds with Marlena's cruel and dictatorial husband August, the circus' owner.
Review: Most people would balk at watching Robert Pattinson in yet another love story, after getting an overdose of his lovesick puppy looks in the Twilight films. But Water For Elephants is directed by Francis Lawrence, known for action horror flicks like I Am Legend and Constantine, so I was curious about this.
Thankfully, as far as love stories go, this isn't half bad. Lawrence manages to pace the film well and not dwell too much on romantic drama drivel we're so accustomed to in this genre. Water For Elephants isn't just a love story between two people, or in this case, three, but it's also a love story between people and the circus. I loved the fact that Lawrence went out of his way to make his film authentic, as everything on screen looks straight out of the Depression era, and the hardship endured by the circus employees, who'd do anything to avoid getting thrown off the train by August when times are hard, is very convincingly presented.
Reese Witherspoon hasn't had a hit lately, but it sure doesn't stop her from working, and I'm glad she took the role of Marlena, as Reese looks right at home here, looking like she belongs in the 1930s. Although I'm certain that body doubles were used during Marlena's performances with the animals and her acrobatic moves, Reese nevertheless makes her presence felt. Robert Pattinson on the other hand, looks a tad out of place, he simply doesn't look like someone from the era. But to his credit, Pattinson gets to display some of his acting chops here, and more often than not, he doesn't look like Edward Cullen at all. Christoph Waltz is great as the mean August, he's a lot like Col Hans Landa of course, but here he's a bit more human. Watch the scene where he feels remorseful after doing a cruel thing to an animal. Hal Holbrook plays the older Jacob retelling the story to another circus owner, but in my opinion, he should have got a bigger role.
Of course, I can't neglect to mention the other star of the film, Tai the elephant, called Rosie on screen. Her chemistry with Pattinson and Reese was well translated to the audience. However, Reese and Pattinson do not have much chemistry with each other, which is a real pity.
In summary, Water For Elephants is worth at least one view, simply because the Depression era is quite fascinating to look at, and the film manages to snare your interest in the circus, even if you're someone who isn't a fan of it initially. (3.5/5)