Romance set in a traveling circus, starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. Based on the bestselling novel. Opens Thursday 12 May, click here for movie times & the trailer.
Some films are so entertaining, their flaws can be forgiven. Such is the case with Water for Elephants. It’s an imperfect, schmaltzy beast that feels like a film from a bygone era, and not just because it’s set in the 1930s. This is no prequel or sequel; it doesn’t rely heavily on CGI. It’s a fast-paced adventure tale like they used to make ‘em, a slice of old-fashioned Hollywood that traverses tragedy, romance and exotic travel. Step right up folks and join the circus.
Animal lovers may find it hard going watching the trained cats and star pachyderm, Rosie. The rest will likely thrill to its good versus evil characters, compelling theme of illusion and of course, the fact that Twilight’s Robert Pattinson plays the lead, Jacob.
He is really nice to look at, although his performance feels flat and uncertain, possibly because he’s playing opposite luminous Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon, who puts in a capable performance as one of the circus’ star attractions. Pattinson is just as easily outshone by another fiery Oscar winner, Christopher Waltz who plays the antagonist, August.
There are a few too many holes in the logic, too. A knife appears a little too conveniently in one of the film’s climactic scenes and the old man narrative that bookends the story feels unnecessary (Since when did Hal Holbrook look anything like Pattinson?). But director Francis Lawrence keeps tensions high throughout, the costumes look authentic and the story – based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Sara Gruen – is riveting enough to make it feel like two hours well spent.