Review – Water for Elephants

Everyone has been to a circus at some point in their lives; I’m talking about a real traditional circus with clowns and exotic animals not the fancy pants Cirque De Sole, the kind of circus where sitting in the front row was a real risk especially if one of the horses lifted its tail and left a small present in your lap. ‘Water for Elephants’ takes you back to a time when the tradition circus was the best entertainment in town and tells the story of Jacob (Robert Pattinson) a veterinarian student on the verge of completing his degree when life throws him a massive curveball and he winds up working for a travelling circus where he meets the beautiful Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) and her husband/circus boss August (Christoph Waltz). ‘Water for Elephants brings back the charm of old school Hollywood with a classic love story driven by good performances and solid direction despite a plot that gets repetitive and suffers from overly dramatic moments.

‘Water for Elephants’ is a beautifully shot film with a lot of attention to detail; everything is pitch perfect from the costuming to the cinematography and director Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Constantine) has done a fine job of putting all the pieces together to give the film a rustic feel despite his background in action based films. Most of the film is set during the Great Depression and Lawrence does a good job of portraying the harsh reality of the depression and the dream world of the circus. The performances are spot on with Robert Pattinson showing off some acting skills for once, Reese Witherspoon brings grace and beauty to her character while Christoph Waltz steals the show as the kingpin of the circus. There is no doubt Waltz is being typecast in villain roles at the moment but he does it so well, I have no doubt that once he shakes the stigma he could be adding another Oscar to the shelf. Credit must also go to the animal actors and the trainers that worked behind the scenes to get them to perform. The animals play a big part in the film and they are magnificent creatures, I never thought I’d be shedding tears over an elephant but their characters are just as strong as the human cast and they pull on your heart strings.

The first half of the film is strong but at the halfway point things start to get repetitive without pushing the story forward and it slows down the momentum and leaves a huge hole in the middle before the epic finale. The romantic element of the film is well handled but it does become overly dramatic in parts with some of the scenes feeling more at home on ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’.

Don’t be put off by the ‘chick flick’ tags ‘Water for Elephants’ may get because it deserves more respect than that, it may be perfect for grandmas and girlfriends but it aims a little higher and hits the mark.


The Popcorn Junkie