Day 11 of this page to post reshuffling. For all I raved about Water For Elephants, I never saw it again. It was really pretty though.
With stunning visuals and a mesmerizing score, “Water for Elephants” is a movie worth any price of admission.
Directed by Francis Lawrence (“I am Legend,” “Constantine”) and based off the same novel written by Sara Gruen, “Water for Elephants” was picked for review in this week’s “You Voted” section on the CNM Chronicle Facebook page (Facebook.com/CNMChronicle).
Primarily set in the midst of the great depression in 1931, the film begins in what is believed to be present day with an old man (played by Hal Holbrook), who we find out to be an older Jacob, standing outside the circus as he waits for his son to arrive. While waiting, the older Jacob meets the current circus boss Charlie (played by Paul Schneider) and proceeds to tell him about the greatest circus disaster to ever occur.
While older Jacob begins to speak, the scene transitions to the 1930’s and older Jacob becomes younger Jacob (played by Robert Pattinson). Younger Jacob is on his way to take his final test before he can graduateCornellUniversity with a degree in Veterinary Sciences.
Unfortunately for Jacob, in the midst of the final exam he is called away to find out his parents have both been killed in a car accident. Unable to retain his home and without any money, Jacob walks the rails until he hops on a train. Soon does he find out, the train is owned by the Benzene Brothers Circus.
Greeted by a cast of Coochie’s, performers, show hands, roustabouts, and others, Jacob soon finds himself welcome and in work. Once he speaks with the head boss August (played by Christoph Waltz), Jacob finds himself the circuses premiere Veterinarian.
After being named veterinarian, Jacob formally meets August’s wife, Marlena (played by Reese Witherspoon). His first action as Veterinarian is to determine how much longer the show’s star horse has before he will have to put it down
After telling August that the horse needs to be put down immediately, August determines that the horse should work for a couple more shows. Jacob disagrees and after August leaves, he takes a pistol to the head of the horse while Marlena holds it. It is at this point where the audience first notices the sadistic cruelty of August. August and his men grab ahold of Jacob while on the train between cities and proceed to begin to throw him off. But in a split second, on the last count of three, Jacob flies into the train wall and August commences to tell him that while he disobeyed, he may have saved Marlena’s life in the process.
In need of a new star act, August surprises everyone with an elephant named Rosie (played by Tai the elephant), he acquires at the next stop. The elephant is to be the next star act and Jacob is to be her handler, which forces Jacob and Marlena to spend time together.
As time progresses, Jacob and Marlena grow closer to each other and to Rosie, developing a relationship that builds throughout the movie. While their relationship builds, August’s behavior grows more and more grotesque; beating Rosie when she misbehaves, degrading Marlena, and misusing Jacob. As time progresses the only question is who will make it out alive?
The film is easily Lawrence’s best work as the visuals in every scene are breathtakingly classic and are only enhanced by an at-times overwhelming score. The dialog and action on screen build throughout the movie and seemingly climaxes with a scene where it seems the “Big Top” will come crashing down.
The movie benefits with strong performances by Witherspoon (who, at times, has almost a Marylyn Monroe type quality), Waltz (who grows more chilling and dastardly with each second of the movie) and surprisingly Pattinson (whose twilight fame will underscore his solid, seemingly classic, performance).
The scene stealer however is easily Tai the elephant. Tai’s antics in the training by Pattinson, the visuals of her after confrontations with Waltz, and her role in the climax of the movie will leave you awed by what is going on on-screen.
“Water for Elephants” is easily the best movie in theaters and could come away being one of the best of the year. Think “The Notebook” meets “Casablanca” (but in a circus). Don’t miss it.
(((Rating))) “Water for Elephants” 4.5-of-5 stars. This film is recommended.