FilmDrunk

Review: Water for Elephants wins my heart via circus porn

Water for Elephants. Opens April 22nd. Directed by Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend), adapted by Richard LaGravenese (Fisher King) from Sara Gruen’s best-selling novel, starring Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz, and Robert Pattinson.

The first thing I thought upon leaving my screening of Water for Elephants was, “Hmm, how ashamed should I be for liking the new Robert Pattinson movie?”  I’ve never secretly torn through a trashy romance novel before, but I imagine the feeling is similar.  Trust me, I certainly shared your pre-conceived reservations about Greezy Reese Withersoon, her supposed faux-erudite obnoxiousness, and her scary dagger chin; Robert Pattinson’s Hartnettian squintitude and association with the Twilight franchise.   But before I knew it, I was swept up in a world of elephants! Circus freaks! Midgets! Whores! Tramps riding the rails! Jolly winos! Italian street vendors! Lions! Tigers! Christoph Waltz chewing scenery!

You damned circus hucksters, you know my distaste for cheesy romance is no match for my love of 30s carnie talk!

R-Pattz plays Jacob Jankowski, who begins the film older, as a sad, nostalgic Hal Holbrook pouring his guts out to a stranger, which always makes me go a big rubbery one. OH NO, HE’S HOLDING A BLACK AND WHITE PICTURE!  STAND BACK, THE OLD MAN’S ABOUT TO REMINISCE!  Damn Hal Holbrook and his old sad eyes, they could sell me anything!

Next thing you know, we fall down his quivering jowels into the glowing, Earth-toned, gorgeously-shot 1930s, where R-Pattz plays the young Jankowski, the son of Polish immigrants taking his final exam in Veterinary Science at Cornell.  He’s handsome, young, on the cusp of success, and all the chicks want to do him.  Until all of a sudden (*RECORD SCRATCH*), he gets pulled away from his licensing test (JUST ONE LAST TEST!) to identify his dead parents who just bit it in a car crash.  Soon mean old banker Mr. Hyde shows up (seriously, Bernard from Lost plays a banker named Mr. Hyde) to tell Jacob that the bank is foreclosing on the family farm.  Because somehow a death allows the bank to do that.  So naturally, Jacob quits school and hits the rails like a hobo, as was the fashion at the time, which was The Depression.

“I don’t know if I found that train, or if that train found me.” (direct quote from R-Pattz’ voiceover narration)

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