1931 wasn't a good year. The depression hit America hard. Water for Elephants captures this grim reality but manages to maintain the romanticism of the train-travelling big-top circus era. Pattison handles the leading role with a great deal of competency, though never seeming to transcend that level. This stands out more in comparison to the excellent performances given by Christoph Waltz and Reese Witherspoon. There are a number of vital elements that I wish were explored further and the ending's a bit too clean, but nevertheless, Water for Elephants is an engaging tale of beauty in a very ugly time.