Films | Water for Elephants – Movie Review

Water for Elephants – Movie Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on May 6, 2011 | No Comments

PRODUCER – Gil Netter, Erwin Stoff, Andrew R. Tennenbaum

DIRECTOR – Francis Lawrence

WRITER – Richard LaGravenese (screenplay), Sara Gruen (novel of the same name)

CAST – Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz

MUSIC – James Newton Howard

Jacob’s (Robert Pattinson) parents pass away when he is in his final year at Cornell leaving behind huge debts. With nothing to live by and for, Jacob leaves the city, a stowaway on a train carrying a travelling circus. As an almost qualified vet he gets a job with the circus and with it a ringmaster August (Christoph Waltz) who is a victim of his own psychosis. Jacob falls in love with August’s wife Marlene (Reese Witherspoon) and she returns his tenderness while they share more than a common love for the circus animals, primarily Rosie, a newly-acquired elephant and August’s star attraction. Will the couple be able to win against the cruelty of August, the despotism of the circus traditions in mid-30s and their own faltering hearts?

However, their uniting isn’t the central objective of the story. The film starts with an old Jacob recounting his life story to another circus employee. The film pans out in a flashback and tells the story of Jacob, Marlene and Rosie with a lot of tenderness. But somehow this tenderness stays limited to their lives and does not reach the viewer to encompass him into a world of grandeur and romance.

The circus acts in themselves are perfunctory and devoid of the spectacle and drama that it intends to portray. The narrative is loose and too flaccid for a story of such passion. Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon put up convincing performances while Christoph Waltz gets stereotyped in yet another eccentric and psychotic role.

A combination of a tepid screenplay and a certain lack of depth, with most events being ‘told’ through dialogues, even August’s habits, makes for a less involved viewing. For lovers of period films there isn’t much to look forward to either and neither is the circus culture presented as an alive world to derive a satisfaction of delving into. Like said earlier, it makes for an absorbing book but as a film the story doesn’t hold much especially with the cursory treatment the screenplay gives it.


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