Review: Water for Elephants

Graduating from the fangtastic ‘Twilight’ school of schmaltz, the R-Pattz journey of leading man evolution continues in this ‘Titanic’ romance. Pretty main boy, attractive older woman, forbidden love, dominating obsessive ‘old man’, trapped aboard a huge metal vessel, all bookended by a present day geriatric retelling.

‘Water for Elephants’ is ‘Titanic’ on rails as orphaned runaway Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson) falls for older lady Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) all on board the rudderless, faltering ‘Benzini brothers’ circus locomotive captained by wicked, compulsive hubby August (Christophe Waltz).

August doesn’t like animals too much either, exploiting his attractions until exhaustion and redundancy, but when he acquires Rosie, a “star attraction” elephant, the wavering road show’s prospects improve and so in turn Jacob’s ascension through the circus train’s classes to share ‘the captain’s table’ and the ringmaster’s entrapped wife.

Witherspoon convinces as the ambivalent spouse, ensnared but loyal to the man who took her off the streets, longing for an existence in a real world of never acceptance, teasingly intimating at a life outside of the railroad cage.

Waltz’s ‘August’ is a toned down ‘Landa’, his brilliant former Tarantino turn, but offers enough of a window into the obsessions of a desperate, slowly failing man whose actions may be more affected  by fear of ruin than genuine devilry.

Pattinson charms; long, brooding looks and smiles, he can no doubt open and hold a movie, but surely is capable of more. He is sure to be stretched in his next outing in David Cronenberg’s ‘Cosmopolis’, exploiting his ever growing star quality and developing acting ability.

Momentarily melodramatic and mechanical, ‘Water for Elephants’ stays on track to deliver just enough old-fashioned, benign romance thanks to three worthy central performances and a wrenching recital by the brilliant Hal Holbrook as the aged Jacob whose retelling and reflection on a life truly lived charms and saddens in his portrayal of old age abandonment.

R-Patt’s ‘Titanic’ old-time circus romance just dodges any metaphoric ‘bergs to just stay afloat, delivering a well told traditional love story.

Watched on Sky Movies


6 responses to “Review: Water for Elephants

    • I was pleasantly surprised by WFE and pattinson is growing on me. I think i may let my lady take control of the TV again, decent pick this time. 🙂

      • I read the book knowing who was cast in the movie so I found myself snickering while reading at the idea of him in the lead. Very happy they didn’t age him for the present day stuff. That would have been painful.

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