Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Water For Elephants [ Movie Review ] ★★★★

The Pitch

How to be remembered after the Twilight Franchise ends? Or does Robert Pattinson has a career beyond the realm of Twilight? Let's just say that not many people have caught his last two non-Twilight flicks "How to be" and "Remember Me". These days, it's hard to rely on good looks and fan base to establish a acting career in Hollywood.

Water for Elephants might just be the break for him. Based on Sara Gruen's novel that was on New York Times Best Seller list for 12 weeks, the tale about a man running away with the circus might just be the one that gives him a chance to convince the non-Twilight fans of his appeal and charisma beyond the sullen Cullen persona.

Besides that, Robert Pattinson is getting support from two Oscar winners. Christoph Waltz made his mark with his memorable portrayal of SS Colonel Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds, will be menacing the adulterous couple as the circus ringmaster. Reese Witherspoon who did a fantastic rendition of June Carter in Walk The Line will be circus star performer and the unwitting love interest in a complicated love triangle.

The Plot

Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson) a young veterinary school student suffers a major blow in his life during the final paper. His parents passed away in an automobile accident and the bank was taking back all the property that his parents had mortgaged for his school fees. Lost and devastated with the chain of events, he wandered about on a train track and came across a traveling circus.

Since he is a veterinary student who almost completed his  degree, he was taken in by the charismatic but brutal ring master August (Christoph Waltz). Jacob soon form an uneasy relationship with August and his wife Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), the a performer of the circus who works with animals.

As Jacob and Marlena works together with Rosie the elephant (a recent acquirement by August) to form a new star attraction for the circus, they started to grow fond of each other. August grew suspicious of their relationship and confronted them with threats and physical abuse. Could these two lovebirds escapes the ringmaster crutches and set off to find a better life elsewhere?

The Perspective

Water for Elephant turned out to be surprisingly good. First and foremost, this movie managed to capture the pure escapism of running away with a circus. It also did well to convey the sense of old school grandeur that only a circus could provide. It provided reminders on why the circus is such a place of wonderment and danger that mesmerized us.

Besides the glam and glitz of the circus act, it also dealt with animal abuse issues that plague the circus group for a long time. How are the animals treated in circus and what do they do to make them perform. The case here would be Rosie, the elephant that could not be trained. What do you do when that happened? Getting Rosie was a considerate sum of investment and the circus workers need to make a living. Water for Elephant gave an interesting perspective to both sides .

The cast were fabulous in their respective roles. Hal Holbrook short performance as the old Jacob who was narrating this story was a strong anchor to start and end the movie. Christoph Waltz shined again as a morally conflicted villain who was effortlessly charming but yet with a menacing edge. This is one performance that makes you forget the lame Green Hornet villain that he did recently.

Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon would be one of the most badly mismatched couple on screen in recent years. They both gave a great performance but when they appeared on screen together as a couple, the chemistry between them are just not there. It's easy to believe Jacob's lovelorn feelings for Marlena and Marlena's conflicted emotions but when they come together, they simply don't look like a couple in love.

There are also some rather apparent loopholes in this movie. The biggest one would be why did Jacob went on a journey after his parents passed away. Even though he became homeless, it's likely that his school fees had been paid in full and he was just one exam away from being a certified vet. Why would he abandon his last chance of making a living, especially during the Great Depression period?

Nevertheless, it's easy to forget those glaring loopholes and get swept away by the chain of events that occurred in Water for Elephants. It brought back some of the old magical charms of circus life and the love triangle between the three main characters were well handled. Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon might be the mismatched screen couple of the year but lucky that bit could be easily overlooked. Water for Elephants come highly recommended.

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