I saw Water for Elephants last night at a special early screening sponsored by Living Social. Drinks, appetizers, the movie and a coupon for the book — all for $20?
Full disclosure — I haven’t read the book. During the cocktail hour before the movie, I found that most of the people there had. And they approached the film with equal parts excitement and expectation.
Me? I had none. I was there based on the trailer alone. (We all agreed that was good.)
I think we all agreed on the movie as well. When an entire theatre filled with people cheers not once, but twice at the end of a film, that’s a good sign.
If, like me, you haven’t read Water for Elephants, it’s set in the Great Depression. An Ivy League veterinary student loses his parents and his home at the start of the film. Forced to find his own way in the world, he hops a train which, as fate would have it, is a struggling circus. There he finds work and love — the girl, unfortunately, is the owner’s wife.
Wouldn’t ya know?
Christoph Waltz, who won an Oscar for Inglourious Basterds, is riveting as the circus owner and ringmaster. He is unbelievably cruel — to both people and animals — but is still able to elicit some sympathy for his actions.
[My one hesitation in seeing the film was the animal cruelty I knew would be portrayed on screen. While it was there — all CGI, no animals were hurt in the making of this film — it was not overt, and off-camera when possible. It will still hurt your feelings, but don’t skip the movie.]
Reece Witherspoon is all platinum hair and ice — a hardened circus performer. She never really warmed up, though, which made her ‘desperate’ romance with Robert Pattinson a bit hard to believe.
And Robert? Well, he finally has a role with a little more teeth in it — get it? teeth? you’re welcome — and I think he handled it quite well. The cinematography, with all his sepia tones and sunsets to convey the era, suit him well.
If you just like looking at him, this film does not disappoint. But his performance offers much more…something the major film critics are having to grit their teeth and admit. I’m enjoying that as well.
Oh — and I can’t forget the elephant in the room. She ends up being the star of the show.