WATER FOR ELEPHANTS (2011)

francis-lawrence-water-for-elephants-vizet-az-elefantnak-1

Directed By: Francis Lawrence
Written By: Richard LaGravenese
Based on the book by: Sara Gruen
Cinematography by: Rodrigo Prieto
Editor: Alan Edward Bell

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Resse Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz, Hal Holbrook, Paul Schneider, Ken Foree, James Frain, Tim Guinee

After his parents’ death, Jacob Jankoski is left penniless and homeless. Events lead him to joining the circus as their vet, working under their unstable boss August whose violent tendencies give everyone reason to be cautious around him, including his beautiful and quiet wife Marlena, whom August is very possessive of and who Jacob finds himself soon falling in love with.

I actually expected to really hate this film and only gave it a chance after it surprisingly got a bunch of good reviews and actually won best picture drama at the people’s choice awards. I can say I was surprised by the film but not blown away. It is entertaining to watch. Though not a film I need to see many times. I would recommend it for anyone looking for a nice romance to watch. It’s sappy of course but actually has a story that is interesting and not an excuse to put two hot attractive actors together. Like THE NOTEBOOK this film feels like a old time classic love story or like it could at least become one.

The film is quite shocking in some of it’s scenes when it comes to violence and cruelty it is not specifically shown but you see the aftermath and the beginning of it.

Robert Pattison at this point in his career will be hated on or be thought of as one note because he keeps taking on roles like this that make him seem stuck as one dimensional, But it is so far what he is good at since the few times he tries to play a different kind of role he is laughed at or judged before he can be given a chance to convince you of his talents. I don’t think he is a great actor but I feel he should be given a chance as he hasn’t done a truly horrible performance. Just been in some bad films. Though since they are a series it’s not his fault for being in them as they launched his career. He beat out Channing tatum, Andrew Garfield and Emile Hirsch for the role.

I really enjoyed Christoph Waltz as with his performance in INGLORIOUS BASTERDS. He is an actor who you can tell enjoys acting he fully stays in character but you can see a certain joy in his eyes and face. You can tell he enjoys performing and just the happiness to create a character. I really felt sorry for his character because as the love story is happening I thought it would be interesting for the filmmakers to give us a peak into his point of view, being betrayed instead of him all of a sudden just becoming an all out villain. Though to support the transformation they show little hints and peaks of his dark side. A role Sean Penn dropped out of early.

I am not a huge Reese Witherspoon fan but she gives a good performance and it has been awhile since I have seen her give one and also appear in a pretty good film. She looks both classic and beautiful in this film as her character was once a orphan who lived on the streets until the ringmaster saw her on the street taught her how to be a performer and spoiled her as his wife. She is like a delicate flower in this film. Not one for female independence and plays more like a pawn in a tug of war. She replaced Scarlett Johanssen who turned down the role.

The film of course goes the usual route of having the happy couple at the beginning of the film driven apart as he becomes more dastardly as the film progresses at first he is sweet then becomes an evil barbarian interesting enough he never showed any signs of this behavior before any of this. They were ok to decent. Then all of a sudden turn evil after trusting their young beautiful nubile wife to be around the quiet sweet good looking new worker all the time. I guess he thinks that the new guy is too nice to put the moves on his wife and will be so thankful for employment that the new guy won’t even think of seducing his wife. Then is shocked when the two of them have a romantic rendezvous.

This is a romance film through and through. If you are not interested in seeing a romance you have no reason to watch it. IT is a well constructed film with skill in storytelling and movie making but sticks to the romantic drama formula.

Hal Holbrook gives extra resonance to his role as he was recently widowed in real life when filming his role.

Director Francis Lawrence does give the film a visual flair while keeping it’s look classic. He shows he is willing to challenge himself by taking on a smaller story then the blockbusters he usually directs like I AM LEGEND and CONSTANTINE.

GRADE: C+

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