Based on the popular novel, Water for Elephants is a well-made, well-acted, somewhat old-fashioned pleasure to watch.
Robert Pattinson (of Twilight fame) plays our young hero, the young version of old circus hand Hal Holbrook, who narrates his story and bookends the movie.
It’s 1931 and he’s about to graduate from veterinary school when his parents are killed and he’s forced to go on the road to survive. He jumps a freight train, which turns out to be transporting a circus. At first his job is shovelling crap, but soon he’s the circus vet and falling in love with the circus’s beautiful star attraction (Reese Witherspoon).
Unfortunately, she’s married to the cruel owner of the circus (Christoph Waltz) so you know this is not going to work out well for everyone. The circus is also in deep financial trouble and they need something to pull in the customers so they work together to develop an elephant act. Everyone’s favourite character in the movie will be Rosie, the Polish elephant, who likes some whiskey in her drink bucket.
This film has lovely production values and great period atmosphere that conveys some of the magic of a circus while showing some of the cruel reality behind the tinsel at the same time.
Not having read the book the story was all new and enjoyable to this reviewer. However, the resolution is a little over the top and foreshadowed. But this should be a popular crowd pleaser.
Rating: four deer out of five
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Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.