Last week on the advice of a co-worker I picked up the book Water for Elephants. She said it was a fantastic love story that she couldn’t put down. And while the love story is definitely appealing, with the boy hero, damsel in distress and evil villain, the surprising element was the fascinating circus history.
Like all novels that get turned into movies, it was with some trepidation that I went to go see Water For Elephants over the opening weekend. I am happy to report that despite some slight adjustments in the screenplay adaptation, the film is equally exhilarating.
Train movies are great, but very few show the history of the day-to-day life of living on a train, particularly a circus train that depicts a fascinating underworld most people aren’t familiar with. Life was hard, it really was “the show must go on,” but despite that, or maybe because of that, bonds between people are made quickly and deeply.
There are not a lot of fancy movie-making techniques, the film lets the story and the performance of the actors shine. The acting is top-notch. I hope there are Oscar nominations coming out of it, because all the actors were exceptional, but I fear it is too early in the season. If there are acting nominations (which would be a shame) then there MUST be ones for costume design. The costumes are beautiful. Exquisite. I want the entire wardrobe that Reese Witherspoon had!
The Cast of Water For Elephants
All three of the main characters gave splendid performances, particularly Reese Witherspoon. Her role as Marlena is quite complex and she effortlessly switches between the dutiful wife and the tempted seductress and survivor.
If I hadn’t read the book, she certainly would have had me as confused as she did Robert Pattinson. Her character further illustrates what the performers and workers, especially the women, had to do to survive in the circus world.
Heart-throb, Robert Pattinson (Twilight) is Jacob, the veterinary student who literally runs away to join the circus and falls for the circus owner’s wife. Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) is a wonderfully evil villain as Reese’s jealous husband.
The other female star of the show was Rosie the elephant who you quickly develop a relationship with by virtue of the plight of her story and how she connects all the characters. I have read in several articles that Robert thoroughly enjoyed “acting” with her and slathered himself in peppermints to keep up her affections. I can understand that, as she was delightful.
One thing I think they should have spent a tiny few minutes on in the film is showing where the title Water for Elephants came from. Unless you read the book, the film does not solve the mystery, which I think is a shame. But it does not prevent you from enjoying the movie.
Water for Elephants is a beautiful film full of conflict and fantasy and at the heart of it a beautiful love story. I highly recommend it. It has romance, and action and animals and history. Good versus evil and the trials and tribulations on men and its classes. Seriously something for everyone!