Take a tired cinematic love triangle, add depression era circus folk and handsome-as-a-Greek-statue-but-shallow-as-a-Roman-fountain Robert Pattinson and I have to admit there isn’t much about Water for Elephants to suggest it might be my cup of tea. On the other hand, screenwriter Richard LaGravenese (The Fisher King, The Bridges of Madison County) has had more than one screenplay turned into a good movie, likable Reese Witherspoon (who hasn’t exactly been prolific since her Oscar win for 2005's Walk the Line) is usually engaging, and I was curious to see if Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) was more than just another Best Supporting Actor one-hit wonder. So it is that I decided to have a look with a minimum of expectations. Imagine my surprise then that Water for Elephants turned out to be pretty good.
Going in, I wondered how the movie was going to draw a modern audience into its Depression era circus milieu. I worried they were going to go with one of those clichéd present-day bookend numbers where the old man recounts his story blah blah blah… and that’s exactly how Elephants started. My low expectations quickly turned to active skepticism, but luckily the filmmakers were smart enough to cast Hal Holbrook as Jacob Janowski. Like the pro he is, Holbrook quickly sets a soulful tone as an old man with a story to tell, the drama of which is worn into every wrinkle on his face.
See livingincinema.com for full review