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Water For Elephants Review

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Water For Elephants


20th Century Fox

PG 13 121 min


So gang, here's another of those flicks from a big time best seller that I assume will set off a debate about the book versus movie lovers..

I'll admit to never having read (or even heard much about) the Sara Gruen novel of love and betrayal in the years of the circus' fading glory, but I hear I'm in the minority there.

This is a period piece in more than one way.

First that it takes place in a depression era traveling show but also the nearly extinct man woman sensibility.

In the time of Tennessee Williams it was more common to hear a story of a young woman under the thumb of a powerful older husband and the allure of a handsome drifter.

Maybe today's more liberated women would find the dynamic strange, but there's definitely a feeling of days gone by here.

In the years of the depression Americans had little disposable income and the greatest show on earth took a backseat to food and shelter in the battle for those precious dollars.

Also on hard luck is Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattison of TWILIGHT fame), who nearly before graduation from veterinary school finds that his hard working immigrant parents have been killed in a crash. Worse yet, Jacob learns that the farm has been mortgaged to pay his tuition.

Broke and alone the young man sets out on the road eventually to fall in with a traveling circus where he catches the eye of the owners hot young wife Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) and thereby the wrath of August,(Christopher Waltz) the owner himself.

There's a dark and deadly underside of this troupe, rife with murder and other treachery and I'm guessing it's underplayed in order to keep the PG 13 rating. You can't afford to keep the teenage girls and older women away with an “R”

Though it took a while I became more and more involved with the characters and in the story.

August is a truly despicable character and Waltz is one of the best in the business at playing this kind of villain. Remember INGLORIOUS BASTARDS?

Pattison and Witherspoon never quite click as the star crossed lovers but they aren't bad and the story is strong enough to carry itself.

Hal Holbrook who appears at the top and bottom as kind of narrator is a pleasant surprise as well.

Good to see an American icon still working.

It's a good story and a good film.

I might just look into the novel.






email westsidesteve@aol.com

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  • 5 months later...

Just rented this. Personally, I like period pieces like this. Especially this era, since these are the times our parents grew up in. A very well made film. On Rees's part, I feel she was playing the part as she should have. The times were tough, she had a sugar daddy and was reluctant to let go of the life she had with Christolph with all his faults. When his jealousy got the best of him, she gave over and went with the one she really wanted. A very good movie! All well acted. Yes, Hal is always a plus for any movie he is in. I think he is an Ohio native, if I remember correctly.

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Nice review, and a pretty good flick. A solid B for sure.


I was curious to see how it ended up as it was filmed here in the Chattanooga area.



It was nice seeing Hal Holbrook in the movie.....a similar role to the one Gloria Stuart played in Titanic...giving a narrative of their life.


Well done.

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