Monday, April 25, 2011

{Movie Review} Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants is historical love story based on the bestselling book by Sara Gruen by the same name.  It stars a pair of Academy Award winning actors, Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds), Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line), and Robert Pattinson.

The story is based during the Depression and centers around Cornell veterinary student, Jacob Jankowski (played by Robert Pattinson), a young man on the verge of receiving his degree and license and poised to work alongside his father when his world falls apart.  He discovers after losing his parents in an automobile accident, that his parents wagered their whole life savings and home in order for him to go to college.  Penniless, and with nothing and no one to go home to, he decides to leave everything behind.  Jacob ends up hopping a train to a destination unknown. He soon discovers, the train he jumped on is a traveling circus train.

Jacob is introduced to to the ringmaster/head trainer of the circus, August Rosenbluth (played by Christoph Waltz), who, upon learning he is a trained vet, hires him to look after the animals.   Jacob also discovers August is also married to the star attraction, Marlena Rosenbluth (played by Reese Witherspoon), who he has become enchanted with.  He becomes painfully aware of August's ruthlessness and lack for civility to anyone and anything around him after witnessing how he treats those at the bottom of the totem pole and the beautiful gentle elephant he has acquired in one of his stops.

Francis Lawrence did an amazing job directing this movie.  Not only is the movie frontlined by two Academy Award Winning actors, but a slew of other exceptional winners have their hand on weaving and creating this magical story behind the scenes as well.  Having read this book three years ago, I was a bit afraid of being disappointed with the movie.  It is very difficult to write a 2 hour screenplay from a novel with such precise and vivid detailing.  As the audience, we know many scenes will be cut.  But, Richard LaGravanese, did a superb job of maintaining all the key elements which made this book touch the hearts of millions.

Water for Elephants transports the audience straight back to the 1930's.  The imagery, costumes, and sets, are all authentic to this era.  There is only one word to describe it.... breathtaking.

I can not rave more about the casting on this film.  Christoph convinces the audience to hate August as the villan of the story.  We can feel the pain and anguish Marlena is feeling when trying to decide what life she would like to live.  And Robert literally convinces you of the innocence and naivete, Jacob; a young man who is seeing the world beyond his home with wide eyed wonder for the very first time.

With all the magical elements and imagery, this is definitely a movie to watch on the big screen and one you would walk away feeling like you spent 2 hours experiencing a time of great simplicity long gone.


  1. I cannot wait to see this movie, CJ! I wanted to read the book, but never got around to it with my schedule, so I've been looking forward to it. Will be spending the afternoon today with a girlfriend ... I'll see if she'd like to go ... so glad you are giving it a thumbs up!! xoxo

  2. I have been wondering about how this movie was but not sure from the trailer if I would like it. So glad to read your review. Now I will definitely check it out! Have a great week!

    xo Mary Jo

  3. i can't wait to see this movie! i loved the book. thanks for the review!