[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B005VTO4KW][/pullquote] Based on a book by Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants tells the story of Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson), a part-qualified veterinarian during the great depression whose life plans are destroyed by the sudden death of his parents. On his way to ˜the city’ for work, he jumps on a train belonging to August (Christoph Waltz) and home to the travelling Benzini Brothers circus. Jacob is hired by August as the circus’ vet and he begins to develop a relationship with star attraction Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) the wife of August.
From the moment that Water for Elephants starts, it is clear that it is going to be a period romance. The score and the soft-focus of a lot of shots rather heavy-handedly belie the intentions of the film-makers, but it is done in a solid professional manner that engages the audience well. The cast are strong with Pattinson showing once again why he’s the talk of Hollywood. Christoph Waltz is excellent with a glossy sheen hiding the intimidating, snarling true character of circus-master August. There might be some concern that he is playing a similar character as in Inglourious Basterds, but when the performance is this strong, who really cares?
Water for Elephants’ plot is intriguing and captivating for the first half as we’re introduced to the side-characters and the truth behind the circus’ claims, including the shocking revelation that the ˜fat lady’ is not 800lbs and the tattooed woman was not ˜raised by savages in Borneo.’ However once the film starts to concentrate on the relationship between Jacob and Marlena, the film loses its way.
Whilst the lead pair have good chemistry, the scenes they share are so run-of-the-mill and predictable that it kills the momentum of the first third dead in its tracks. A rather thrilling final scene and a tear-jerking finale with ˜old Jacob’ go some way to making up for the second third, but by then the damage is done.
The elephant is cute, but not overwhelming and with a harsher editor it might have been so much more. As it is, it’s worth a watch, but you’d be hard-pressed to talk about it in a few months as there is nothing lasting or memorable in it.