Entertainment Magazine: Film: 2011: "Water for Elephants"

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS - If You Like the Weak Stuff

By Miv Evans

There's a little action at the beginning of this film, total chaos at the end, and the rest is just a few animal tricks, a load of idle gossip and a sociopath circus owner attacking his bi-lingual elephant when ticket sales are down.

Jacob (Robert Pattinson) is still a student when his parents die in a car accident and he is left destitute and homeless.  He abandons his studies and makes his way to the nearest city to find work.

He jumps aboard a passing train and discovers that the coaches are filled with circus performers en route to a show in the next town.  He meets the owner August (Christoph Waltz) and his wife Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) who give him a job and his life at the Big Top begins.

The casting in this appears to be a little awry.  Pattison is 24, Witherspoon 35 and Waltz 54.  Although this kind of age hopping happens in real life, in films differentials need to be observed in some way, and when they're not, we are left with a feeling that something is not quite right.  This 'not quite right' mood is ever present in the many scenes with the three and, with zero chemistry and only facts to drive their exchanges, the ménage a trois falls into cliché land and each time someone speaks they tell us only what we already know.

Water for Elephants Movie Release Dates International:

Norway: 15 April 2011
Sweden: 15 April 2011
Turkey: 15 April 2011
Belarus: 21 April 2011
Croatia: 21 April 2011
Kazakhstan: 21 April 2011
Russia: 21 April 2011
Rwanda: 21 April 2011
Slovenia: 21 April 2011
Austria: 22 April 2011
Finland: 22 April 2011
Italy: 22 April 2011
USA: 22 April 2011
Argentina: 28 April 2011
Germany: 28 April 2011
Colombia: 29 April 2011
France: 4 May 2011
Philippines: 4 May 2011
Switzerland: 4 May 2011 
UK: 4 May 2011
Denmark: 5 May 2011
Greece: 5 May 2011
Malaysia: 5 May 2011
Netherlands: 5 May 2011
Portugal: 5 May 2011
Singapore: 5 May 2011
Poland: 6 May 2011
Spain: 6 May 2011
Estonia: 13 May 2011
Hungary: 14 July 2011

August, obviously, has tyrant issues.  One minute he's relaxed and charming, the next he's beating the hell out of an animal or getting workers thrown to their death to avoid paying their wages.

Marlena is only too aware of her husband's monstrous behavior and her decision to stay with him, for whatever reason, makes her difficult to like.  There is also a scene, just after August has abused one of the animals, when Jacob helps him solve a problem, which makes our hero seem to accept the cruelty and that he  himself had a hand in the devil's work.

So the only character left to like in this film is Rosie, the elephant, who is quite adorable and also extremely smart.  She also only takes her water laced with whisky, which isn't normal elephant behavior but she was probably bored to death by the lack of action on set and needed a drop of the hard stuff to get her through.   She's not alone.

Miv Evans is a British businesswoman who relocated to Los Angeles in 2005. She previously had a comedy drama commissioned by BBC TV and sold her first film to REN Media International in 2008 which she wrote, directed and produced.

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