By: Emily Kellas
Rating: 7 out of 10
When highly acclaimed books are made into movies, the film usually falls under the microscopic eye of the fans. Water for Elephants, was no exception. Directed by Francis Lawrence the film actually faired pretty well against my exceedingly low expectations. As a huge fan of the original novel by Sara Gruen, and an admitted hater of Robert Pattinson, though indifferent towards Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz, I just wasn’t looking forward to having the world of the Benzini Brothers Circus tarnished. But to my surprise I actually liked the adaptation, something that hasn’t happened since Nicholas Spark’s The Notebook.
Water for Elephants follows the magnificent life story of Jacob Jankowski (Pattinson), told by himself now deep within his old age. The film takes you through his struggles with a family tragedy, and the solace he finds working with the animals after jumping the train of the Benzini Brother’s Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Little did he know that upon hoping this freight that his world would be turned upside down by both passionate love with the boss’s wife Marlena (Witherspoon), and seething hate of August (Waltz) the shows ringleader.
The first thing that stands out about this film is how incredibly beautiful it is. There are some shots that just simply take ones breath away. The colors are saturated and composition is exquisite. A circus, is a very visual experience, therefore the film had to be able to capture that spontaneity and energy all the while telling a story, something that it certainly excels at. From the animals, to the scenery, the lighting to the costumes, every ounce of the film is breathtaking. So if you only see this film for the visuals you will not be disappointed.
Performances wise the film’s stars were as expected. Reese Witherspoon as Marlena, the shows star, was endearing, and adorable. Christoph Waltz reprises his role as the devious and dangerous antagonist, as with Inglorious Bastards, very well. He manages to show the duel personality traits of August, the shows ringmaster, with ease. Though I’ll admit I come with bias towards Robert Pattinson, he didn’t do an all together bad job as Jacob Jankowski the films unlikely protagonist.
With that said, I feel like the film is likely to be forgotten amongst the array of summer films scheduled to come out this season. But for what it’s worth, it managed to do justice to the book, as well as, make for a beautiful film. Though perhaps I’ll always stay loyal to the original literature, the film was still able to strike a chord within me that may have triggered some tears, and an increased appreciation for the folks who everyday put together one of the most spectacular shows on earth.