Tuesday, April 17, 2012

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS

Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz, Hal Holbrook


"Life is the most spectacular show on earth"




There seems to be too much on my plate lately that I hardly have time to watch a full length film, be it at the theaters or in the comfort of my home. Out of town trips, my sister's home visits, household chores and life in general keep me from my fave hobby.

So I have to discern which movies would merit my full attention. "Water for Elephants" has always been on my list to watch films for the sole reason that it features a circus. And who doesn't love a circus, right?

Based on a novel by Sara Gruen, it is set in 1931, an era of the Depression where prohibition was 'strictly' imposed and going to the circus was the only way to be entertained. The story is narrated by an older Jacob (Hal Holbrook) as he reminisces about his 'stint' with the Benzini Brothers Circus.

A flashback to the early 1930s shows us the circumstances how a young(er) Jacob, portrayed by Robert Pattinson gets his life intertwined with freaky characters, animals (lions, horses, elephants) and Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), the star attraction who also happens to be the wife of August (Christoph Waltz), the domineering ringmaster/owner.

The ensuing love triangle between the 3 main characters takes shape around an elephant named Rosie, which August acquires to boost sales for the struggling circus. Rosie becomes the emotional bond that brings Marlena and Jacob together, and the eventual object of August's violent, raging jealousy.

The movie does a good job of capturing the circus atmosphere and immersing the viewer in its uniquely tempting world. A fast-paced adventure tale which doesn't rely on computer generated imagery to awe its audience. Dramatic scenes are prevalent, the costumes look authentic and the story is riveting enough to capture our attention.

Witherspoon is a fine actress, and it is nice to see her in a serious, sensual role which is a far cry from the predictable romantic comedies she likes to star in. Pattinson, best known as Edward Cullen in you.know.those.vampire.movies further proves that he is a one dimensional actor. His performance is flat and wooden for a character that ends up fighting for both his love and his life. He is just as easily outshone by fiery Oscar winner, Christoph Waltz who won for his memorable role as a Nazi officer in "Inglorious Basterds". August can be a charmer, but he rules with an iron fist and treats people and animals with sadistic disdain. You feel your heart skip a bit whenever he is in a volatile scene.

Jacob and Marlena may be the movie's heart, but August provides the high-voltage tension that keeps "Water For Elephants" charging toward its explosive, destructive conclusion!

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