May 19, 2011
This was one of the oldest stories in the book -- a new man gets in between the relationship of a husband and a wife. But for "Water for Elephants," this story was transported to the era of the Great Depression in the US where a young vet student joins a traditional big top circus, led by its perfectionist ringleader and his star performer wife.
I guess period set pieces like this would only appeal to certain people. I did not find the 1930s time or the circus setting particularly interesting. The presence of the the titular elephant Rosie was engaging though, as the beast actually seemed to emote. Christoph Waltz does another one of his charming sadist roles as August, the ringleader. Reese Witherspoon impressed me with some of her gymnastic skills as Marlena, but overall her performance was rather bland.
Most of the audience attention was on Robert Pattinson to see if he can step out of Edward's shadow in the Twilight movies. Interestingly, he plays a character named Jacob in this film. He has very distinct facial features which makes it hard for him to disappear into a role. He was able to show more variety here, and he looked right for the time period. It is still very much in the love story genre though, so his acting style is generally the same.
So the final verdict is: If you like love stories, you might like this movie. If you like the circus, you might like this movie. Despite all the rave reviews I have been reading about it, I found this film rather average because of the very familiar and therefore predictable storyline.