I read the book Water for Elephants a while back in my bookclub, and ever since then I was waiting for the movie to come out. I usually don’t have high expectations when books get translated into movies, but this one held up it’s end of the bargain and then some.
Devastated by the sudden death of his parents at the height of The Depression, a young dreamer from the wrong side of the tracks, Jacob Jankowski (Pattinson), abandons his veterinary studies at Cornell University just shy of a degree. With no other family, no house, and no money, Jacob stows away on a train carrying the circus performers of The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Hired as a veterinarian to care for the troupe’s animals, Jacob is temporarily filled with the promise of an exciting life that comes with a traveling circus troupe. However, as he builds a rapport and falls in love with the star of the show, Marlena (Witherspoon), they become prey to the circus’s owner, Marlena’s violent and abusive husband August (Waltz). As the circus begins to crumble from within and against all odds, Jacob and Marlena come together and fall in love through their compassion for a special elephant. With their love on the line, Jacob and Marlena come to a crossroads that will forever change their destiny.
This story is set in the Great Depression and is beautifully shot. The scenery alone makes it worth seeing, it really sweeps you into the storyline. You really feel as though you’re there on that train, hurtling from city to city during the Depression. Although the movie doesn’t include all that the book does (mainly leaving out parts of Jacob as an elderly man), it does stay true to the story, and I honestly don’t think there was a better way to do the story, unless you wanted to drag it out a tremendous amount.
I fell in love with Rosy, and I think everyone else who watches will as well. The hardest parts to watch were when August beat Rosy – even though I know it didn’t really happen, it’s so realistic it’s hard to watch. My favorite quote was from August, “The whole thing’s illusion, [Jacob], and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s what people want from us. It’s what they expect.” This movie is full of beautiful illusions, and if you watch the movie I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
**I received a copy of this movie for review purposes. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.