DIR: Francis Lawrence • WRI: Richard LaGravenese, Sara Gruen • PRO: Gil Netter, Erwin Stoff, Andrew R. Tennenbaum • DOP: Rodrigo Prieto • ED: Alan Edward Bell • DES: Jack Fisk • Cast: Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz
Basically Titanic set in a circus, the story starts with an old-timer telling a stranger about a beautiful woman he fell madly in love with way back when. Unfortunately, she was married to a homicidal maniac, and the entire thing is a foreground for a massive disaster lurking on the horizon.
Robert Pattinson is a veterinarian student, who is suddenly without money or a place to live, when he parents are killed in a car accident. He happens upon a train that homes a travelling circus, and he is quickly hired as their in-house (in-tent?) vet. And just as quickly, he falls head over heels for Reese Witherspoon, who is the star of the show, which is owned by her husband Christoph Waltz.
The three leads all do well enough with roles they’ve played before; Pattinson is angsty and love struck, Witherspoon is conflicted between lust for this new man and fear of her old one, and Waltz is equal parts charisma and lunacy, with a penchant for throwing people off his train because it’s easier than dealing with the paperwork of firing them.
Director Francis Lawrence made his name in the world of music videos (including, yes, Britney Spears’ ‘Circus’), but here he dials back the OTT visuals he brought to Constantine and I Am Legend, and instead serves up something much more old-school, letting the perfectly reimagined 1930’s setting and glorious cinematography wash over you.
As a whole, the film is far from great; there are a lot of cheesy lines, and there are more than a few montages dedicated entirely to stolen glances of longing. But when there are lions and tigers and fat ladies and midgets and, of course, that glorious elephant Rosie, that you will fall in love with almost immediately, you can almost forgive any discrepancies in quality. Almost.
Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
Water For Elephants is released on 6th May 2011