I had to go see this film by myself, because even my fiancée said it looked too cheesy. This, coming from someone who loves Titanic and The Notebook (wait, aren’t you really just talking about yourself, BC?). I love those films, too, but while she could see the film for what it was, I had my optimism dial turned up to 11. Hal Holbrook was fantastic, as was Reese Witherspoon and Paul Schneider (btw, Christoph Waltz deserves a medical commendation for the CPR he performed on his role), but the film’s faults have nothing to do with the actors. The trailer for this film made promises that the feature didn’t keep, promises of romanticized whimsy peppered with romanticized romance, tied up in a bow made of danger, intrigue and, yes, romance. In all seriousness, I was excited to see this film more for the cinematography and the early circus slash carnival culture of old, but what I ended up with left me wanting. To the film’s credit, the cinematography is wonderful, but the minutiae (I’m told the book is much more richly detailed) and the delicate particulars of circus culture only appeared in snippets, and rarely at that. Too bad, but on a more peculiar note, I found myself enjoying Robert Pattinson’s brooding and fragile, yet strong personae once again. Very odd, that. Pattinson’s acting style is very Paul Walkeresque (my review for Fast Five will explain this), with facial expressions that fall into one of only two categories:
1. I am in utter, angsty agony. Leave me to brood or I may vomit on you.
2. I am so happy that I may vomit.
Hell, many a successful career has been built on less. Look at Michael Cera… The point here is that Water for Elephant is lackluster on all fronts, and despite the best efforts of a (mostly) stellar cast, the result is simply a pleasant, but unremarkable, filmic experience.