elephantsIn the new film Water For Elephants Richard LaGravenese (screenplay) created a perfect companion to Sara Gruen’s (novel) work.


Water For Elephants

The book was so much better. We hear that said many times when discussing best selling novels that have been adapted for the big screen. In fact many attempts fail miserably. The key is to convey the heart of the story, the essence of the characters and not take too many liberties. In the new film Water For Elephants Richard LaGravenese (screenplay) created a perfect companion to Sara Gruen’s (novel) work. Fans of the book will enjoy this film along with those who have no prior association. And it is rare to be able to please both sides.  

The story takes place in 1931 when the depression was in full tilt. It focuses on a young, college trained Veterinarian named Jacob (Robert Pattinson) and a beautiful Circus performer; Marlena (Reese Witherspoon). When Jacob is brought onboard the Circus to train and care for the animals, mainly the new Elephant Rosy, he falls for Marlena. August (Christoph Waltz) is Marlena’s husband and owner of the circus. (yes, they combine the August and Al characters from the book into one; but it works) He is an abusive, tyrant of a man and Jacob tries to find a way to protect both Marlena and Rosy from his wrath.  

The film is beautifully shot and expertly directed. Francis Lawrence captures all the elements of the book in perfect harmony. Nothing is overpowering. That is key in a story such as this. It is as much about the circus life and the relationship of Jacob and August as it is the love story of Jacob and Marlena. Also the dynamic of August being both wife and boss of Marlena is vital. All of these arcs blend well in this film to create a solid and riveting plot.  

Those who only know Pattinson as the brooding, mopey, Vampire from the Twilight series will be impressed at his depth and acting ability. This film will hopefully allow audiences to see how talented he can be given the right opportunity. Witherspoon almost takes a back seat in this one but is the perfect supporting character. She compliments both Waltz and Pattinson. She empowers both actors in the same way her character does in the film. Waltz is always impressive and here he gives one of his best. The way he can go from a soft demeanor to an explosive outburst in seconds is powerful.  

Water For Elephants is rated PG-13. It is rightly rated and mainly for the themes and subject matter. The film is actually tamer than the book with most of the more adult passages left out. The language is mild and not flagrant. Granted this film will appeal to an older audience due to the love story and adult themes. A perfect date night film for married couples of all ages. It is safe to say that it reaches the same demographic the book does and as mentioned, will appeal to both readers and non readers alike. I give it 4 out of 5 big tops. The filmmakers followed some simple rules and it paid off in the end. So says Matt Mungle 

Matt Mungle 

Review copyright 2011 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.