27 April 2011 | jonnyhavey
Melodrama: Waltz Rages Through The Magic
Critically acclaimed novel "Water for Elephants" written by Sara Gruen was a New York Times #1 Best Seller in 2007 and now has taken a turn towards cinema with the help of Director Francis Lawrence ("I Am Legend"). The film's biggest draw comes from Robert Pattinson ("Twilight") after his tween vampire film following success, however, the real star of the show is Academy Award Winner Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Bastards"). Reese Witherspoon ("Walk the Line") stars as the film's leading lady hitting her stride late in the film. Hal Holbrook ("All The President's Men") opens up the film with the portrayal of present day Jacob Janowski found in a parking lot outside of the circus who begins telling the story of his early years connecting to one of the biggest circus disasters in history. Pattinson plays the younger Jacob, a veterinary student at Cornell whose his life is turned upside down. He drops out of school deciding to go jump a train. He realizes that he has joined the ranks of the Benzini Brothers Circus changing his life forever. He is thrown into the harsh reality of the Big Top meeting a man named August (Waltz) who reluctantly gives him a job working with the animals. Jacob becomes infatuated with August's wife Marlena (Witherspoon) who is a part of the lead act in the show that develops into a friendship between man, woman and a majestic elephant. However, life is a battle and the story is extremely dramatic leaving everyone's life at risk with August's alcoholic greedy rage on their doorstep.
Cristoph Waltz does what he does best with his most recent interpretation of a complicated ill-willed bad guy that audiences grow to hate, however, the depth of his performances make him memorable. He is able to give life to the cold soul of August making the viewer root for his demise along with his change of heart. Pattinson shows that he is more than just a tween king vampire, however, his full potential is not unleashed. The real star of the show is the majestic elephant herself (Rosie) and the character's journey to protect her hitting the right notes in the second half.
The magic and magnificence of the film is lost within the overly dramatic, lengthy exposition. The melodramatic backdrop of the film is omnipresent leaving little room for comic relief and the growth of the beautiful creatures to coexist. The most disappointing part of the film is Witherspoon's odd character development making her very plain until halfway through the film. At the same time it seems like an eternity once the elephant finally enters the film showing an inkling of hope, while the love triangle becomes childish, cliché and eventually annoying.
Overall, the film has an average script that is aided by the performances of its actors. It is hard to overlook the melodrama as Waltz controls the show, which is actually more about life and relationships than the circus.