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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

  Water for Elephants is a big screen movie that keeped true to the book by Sara Gruen.  I loved the book and rushed out to see the movie as soon it was released.  I was not disappointed.  With my training in the fine arts, I tend to examine the sets, the staging and the acting before examining the script.   The sets for the film were wonderful.  Who doesn’t love a circus? The romance of the traveling circus draws us in.  We love the trains that transport them to cities and we love the parades that lead us to the circus grounds.  Under Francis Lawrence's sleek direction and Richard LaGravenese script, the love story between Jacob, the  circus vet, and Marlena, the circus owner’s wife, emerges.   Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz, of Inglourious Basterds fame, offer the perfect triangle to base the story.  At first, I was a bit iffy about the casting but they were perfect, particularly Christoph Waltz, who can play sadistic and charming at the drop of a hat.  You enjoy watching him because you know something bad is just around the corner.  With all the Twilight buzz surrounding him, I didn’t expect Pattinson to be able to act but he can and Witherspoon, an Oscar winning actress, did not over power the cast.  Hal Holbrook does a nice job, too, framing the story as he tells the tale of the ill-fated Benzini circus to a modern circus worker.  The only thing missing for me was the lack of grittiness and hopeless of the Depression era, the desperate way circus people lived in order to have a job, roof over their heads and food in their stomachs.  The roustabouts suffered the most. If the owner couldn’t make money at each stop, he would order several thrown from the train in a practice called “red lighting.”  Some would survive the fall but most would not.  The Depression was a desperate time!  Forget bout the symbolism behind water and train tracks.  Just sit back and enjoy as the story unfolds.

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