84 / 365 – ‘Water for Elephants’ – 120 mins
Cinema Challenge #35 / 115
Jacob (Robert Pattinson) is a young veterinary student with a great future ahead of him. That is, until a personal tragedy leaves him wandering penniless, without destination or hope. But Jacob has a date with destiny. When he hops aboard a passing train it turns out to be the home of The Benzini Brothers Circus – and its star attraction, the radiant Marlena (Reese Witherspoon). With no other prospects, Jacob joins the troupe. He starts at the bottom but his veterinary skills see him quickly promoted to working with the animals, including Rosie the Elephant – which brings him closer to Marlena. A mesmerising performer who has a natural gift with animals, Marlena is trapped in her marriage to the circus ringmaster and owner August (Christoph Waltz).
There aren’t too many circus related films these days, with the last I can recall watching recently on this quest of mine Tim Burton’s very fine adventure‘Big Fish’. Quickly setting the tone and telling the story is old Jacob, terrifically played by Hal Halbrook, Water for Elephants isn’t really about the circus, yes there are some stunningly glitzy scenes of the ‘Big Top’, but these serve merely as a backdrop to this troubled romance story between a married woman, and the newest kid on the block.
After managing to side-step the everyone has seen apart from me (heard bad reports), Twilight franchise, this was the first time I had encompassed an R-Patz performance and he does a good job here displaying a range of emotions as the youth at a crossroads in his life. Reece Witherspoon does what she does well with the majority of her roles, charming and cute in the unconvincing romance with Jacob, with this being far from the passionate Oscar-winning performance for her strong portrayal of June Carter in ‘Walk the Line’. There’s no doubt though, just as he was in his Oscar-winning ‘Inglourious Basterds’ turn, that Christoph Waltz is the real star of this show as Marlene’s husband August, where one minute he lulls you into complacency with a friendly demeanour only for the next to be terrifyingly sadistic.