Water for Elephants has all the makings of a typical love story, forbidden love, a charming young man, a beautiful woman and a roadblock in the way of happiness. But at the same time the movie breaks free of the bonds that restrict a love story with two key components: one being a train that holds a travelling circus and the other being an elephant.
Set in the era of the Great Depression, Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson) is a young man who is but a breath away from finishing his veterinary studies and becoming a Cornell graduate when tragedy strikes in the form of a car crash and robs him of his parents. He is destitute and ends up taking to the rails where he happens to jump on a train that is home to The Benzini Brothers travelling circus. He is nearly thrown off the train, a danger that is a constant in the minds of all who work aboard it, but manages to appeal to the ringleader August (Christoph Waltz) by offering his veterinary services. August is a man who seems trustworthy at times, but clearly has a mean streak in him. Jacob keeps his nose clean while learning the ropes of circus life, until he sets his eyes upon Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) the star performer and wife of August who is very much off limits to Jacob.
Together Jacob and Marlena embark on an illicit adventure accompanied by the newest act to the Benzini Brothers: Rosie the elephant. The three of them create a bond that is timeless and although uncertain at times, ends up saving all of their lives.
The circus is a place of wonder to most people’s minds and the director did a good job catching that wonderment in the acts of the Benzini Brothers circus and in the relationships between the main characters. You will find yourself loving the link between Jacob and Marlena and their attachment to Rosie, it will ultimately give you all warm fuzzies upon watching. Although, I think it would be too easy to throw this movie under the romance category. There is such suspense at times that it causes the heart to skip a few beats. Water For Elephants would be a good movie to curl up on the couch with and allow your eyes to be pleased by the rich colours and your heart to be drawn right into the tale of a travelling circus.
By Samantha Dotson