Water for Elephants is Such a Good Movie that Robert Pattinson Can’t Ruin it

I took two twelve year old girls to see Water for Elephants. They say it’s the best movie they’ve ever seen. To be fair they haven’t seen many movies and they thought Eclipse was a good movie, they are not to be trusted.

I read Water for Elephants and like most bibliophiles I seldom enjoy seeing a movie after having read the book. I wanted to see this because I knew that the backdrop of a prohibition era circus was bound to be visually arresting.

The movie did not fail in being a delight to the senses. The costumes, the makeup, the music and the sets were flawless. I felt like I’d been transported to another era. While many movies have arbitrary soundtracks, Water for Elephants had music that became a character.

Reese Witherspoon was Marlena. There isn’t much more to say about her role. There was never a moment where I watched her and thought she was an actor. She was completely believeable in her relationships with both Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson) and with August (Cristoph Waltz ).

Cristoph Waltz plays August the circus owner with a borderline personality. His performance took my breath away. Waltz goes from love to confusion to fury and takes you on a fearful journey. At moments I felt compassion for him, but always he was the enemy of all things good.

Robert Pattinson was okay and mercifully didn’t speak too much. He’s very nice to look at and when he was interacting with the animals he was wonderful. Sadly when he interacted with Reese it felt a little like a high school play where the sweaty palmed sophomore is playing opposite the talented and beautiful senior. I felt badly for him, he was cast with the best of the best and there was no way he was going to end up looking good.

The good news is that the story is such an engaging one, the plot and the music, the scenery and the animals are so all encompassing that you don’t notice the flaws in the performances.

Practical tips.

I took two 12 year old girls to see it. I asked them if they could have enjoyed it a year ago and they had to think hard about it. These are media savvy 12 year olds too. They’ve been on dozens of TV and movie sets so they understand the pretend part of it better than most. They agree that it’s absolutely not for a 9 or 10 year old, but they can’t agree on if 11,12 and 13 are all ready for it.

Animals and people are abused and murdered, but the animal scenes are more disturbing.

None of the violence is gratuitous and the message is positive at the end of the movie.

There are sexy moments but there’s no sex. That Resse Witherspoon is pretty awesome.

Say what you will about Pattinson’s OhShitICan’tAct performance, but after a fight scene a fully packed theater of jaded moviegoers gave the show a round of applause, and then they hushed themself for a kissing scene that was acted so sweetly that everyone was afraid to breathe.

If the measure of a good movie is audience behaviour then Water for Elephants gets an A+. I cried when they asked me to, I cheered when it was planned, I felt tremendous anxiety when they took me on that road, and finally I felt duty bound to the old man who wanted to return to the circus.

There was an experience the writers wanted us to feel, and we felt it all, we felt it as a group, and we celebrated the triumph of Water for Elephants even though the movie never really addressed the fact that no one gets the water for elephants. You bring the elephants to the water, but only carnies and folks who’d read the book would know that.

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  1. I’ve heard everyone talking about this book and how great it is – I don’t read much unless it’s bedtime stories. But now that I know it involves the trifecta: circuses, animal abuse and Robert Pattinson I think I can rule it out.

    1. You would react so strongly to the animal abuse. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but as I read the book, even I (and you know my lack of compassion for animals compared to yours) was near tears as I read some of the abuse those animals endured! Don’t think you’d like to read that

  2. Thank you for the review. I really want to see this.I’ve been waiting for it to com out. I just hate when a movie falls sort of the book, as most do.I’ve almost finished the book. SO I will be sure to finish the book before I go to see the movie.Reese is pretty much always spot on.

  3. Thank you so much for this review. I was really worried and almost do not want to see the movie. So glad that Witherspoon did not disappoint: I think she’s a great actress (probably one of the best currently) but I wasn’t so sure about her as Marlena since I’d always envisioned Marlena to be “younger” (don’t know why and please don’t flame me!)

  4. Thank you so much for this review. I was really worried and almost do not want to see the movie. So glad that Witherspoon did not disappoint: I think she’s a great actress (probably one of the best currently) but I wasn’t so sure about her as Marlena since I’d always envisioned Marlena to be “younger” (don’t know why and please don’t flame me!)

  5. Thank you so much for this review. I was really worried and almost do not want to see the movie. So glad that Witherspoon did not disappoint: I think she’s a great actress (probably one of the best currently) but I wasn’t so sure about her as Marlena since I’d always envisioned Marlena to be “younger” (don’t know why and please don’t flame me!)

  6. Thank you for such a thorough review! When I saw your tweet about being at the theater, I waited anxiously for your thoughts on the movie. I cannot WAIT to see this now! What did you think about the lack of Big Al? I thought he was vital to the story in the book and am very hesitant to watch the movie if he is not in it :(

  7. Thank you for such a thorough review! When I saw your tweet about being at the theater, I waited anxiously for your thoughts on the movie. I cannot WAIT to see this now! What did you think about the lack of Big Al? I thought he was vital to the story in the book and am very hesitant to watch the movie if he is not in it :(

    1. i also saw the movie, and i was a little bummed that big al wasnt in it. but, appreciating it from a cinematic standpoint, i can see how his character was omitted and august was able to absorb the role of ring leader as well. having a separate ring leader opposite august would have muddied up the character lines.

  8. Just loaded the book on my Kindle. Will hold off on movie till I finish, I think. Wondering if Robert is the Keanu of our time? Gorgeous to watch and effective as long as he doesn’t speak?

  9. First of all, I want to thank you for calling me a bibliophile although it was only one of 2 books I’ve been inclined to read in the past several years. That’s a whole ‘nother story. I was dying to see the movie so I went the first day, the first show. Me, alone, with my sandwich. I think because I knew the story, I wasn’t as moved as I could have been but Christoph Waltz really brought it, didn’t he? He is the consummate bad guy. I also really loved RP’s performance. I thought he was adorable and vintage looking and his eyes were melting. (This comes from a girl that never saw any Twilight movies eg; not biased.) I wasn’t however as impressed with Reese’s performance. I wanted her to connect more with Pattinson to show how much she terribly wanted him. I didn’t feel it. Rosie however, now that girl was the STAR!!!

  10. Pingback: Robert Pattinson Never Read Water for Elephants

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