(Written for Boolean Flix)
Based on Sara Gruen’s novel of the same name, and starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon, music director Francis Lawrence returns to the big screen with this 2011 romantic drama Water for Elephants.
After his parents are killed in an accident, veterinary student Jacob Jankowski (Pattinson) is left homeless, abandoning his studies to join the Benzini Brothers circus. During his travels Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie, where he later meets and falls for Marlena, (Witherspoon) the wife of August, a charismatic but twisted animal trainer. As their love for one another remains hidden, the fight to restrain their emotions becomes harder the further their feelings develop.
Set amongst a backdrop of early 1930 circus traditions, Water for Elephants is a spectacular show of itself. With the help of a traditional story telling approach, the cinematography throughout provides this modern take on the classic novel with age and affection.
With Pattinson and Witherspoon leading what is practically an unknown cast, this unexpected pairing works perfectly, moving Pattinson away from the teenage love triangle Twilight fans know him for. Water for Elephants showcases his true ability of performance, and allows his character to break free from his customary vampire role that started his career. Witherspoon does not fail to impress either, landing herself with this much-needed credit, which before now has seen a turn for the worse since 2005’s Walk the Line, when she claimed an Academy Award for her portrayal of June Carter Crush.
Although Water for Elephants is familiar, director Francis Lawrence presents charm, romance and class in this old-fashioned romantic comedy that truly is the greatest show on earth.