Arts & Entertainment

'Water for Elephants' Welcomes You To The Circus


Reel Reviews
Movie: "Water for Elephants" Welcomes You To The Circus
November 9, 2012
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

"It's great it's terrific it's the best show on Earth!" Welcome to the Benzini Brothers Circus.

After his parents untimely death, Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson) finds himself alone, homeless and poor. With one final left to take at Cornell standing between him becoming a veterinarian or nothing, he leaves school in search of a new life. In the middle of the night he stows away on a train only to discover that it carries the Benzini Brothers Circus. The owner and ringmaster of the circus, a violent man whose word is law, August (Christoph Waltz) allows Jacob to join the traveling show, instead of having him thrown to his death off of the moving train, and serve as the veterinarian. Jacob gladly takes the job and is eventually given the task of taking care of and aiding in the training of the Benzini Brothers newest star attraction, Rosie the elephant. The elephant is a gift from August to his wife Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) and also a ploy to get more people to attend their circus over Ringling Brothers.

Over the course of their training, Jacob and Marlena grow attached to each other, finding commonalities and building a friendship, but soon both begin to wish that they could have more together. Once their relationship is discovered by August, the couple flees with the hope of starting a new life together, but their happiness is short lived as they are found and forcibly brought back to the circus. Not to be deterred, the pair makes plans to run away during the next stop of the show, but these plans change quickly as a terrible event transpires involving their beloved elephant Rosie and the rest of the circus performers.

"Water for Elephants," based on the novel by Sara Gruen, is equal parts poignant, funny and dramatic. The three lead actors all do a nice job throughout the film. Waltz plays the aggressive and manipulative ringmaster with a perfectly sleazy flare. After playing many romantic comedy characters over the past several years, Reese Witherspoon turns in an admirable performance that is not nearly as phoned in as some of her previous similar roles. The biggest surprise of the film was Robert Pattinson, who is basically typecast as a sparkly vampire, as the main character. It was a great break from the types of roles he is known for to mainstream audiences and he fills the role well, showing a decent range.

The costumes and sets are beautiful in their late Depression-era looks and help to immerse the audience in the time period. Sadly, the part of the film that suffers the most is the pacing of the story. Although the ending of the film makes it feel like watching was worth it, the pacing throughout it is so sporadic that it tends to make the film drag and makes watching feel like a chore.

"Water for Elephants" runs 120 minutes and is rated PG-13 for moments of intense violence and sexual content. It may be rented or purchased.

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