Another Water for Elephants review, this one from @FilmsActu: “Good news for fans of romantic movies, Water for Elephants respects the rules of the genre perfectly. A simple hero, a femme fatale trapped with a tyrannical husband, an impossible love… all the ingredients are there to make this new film directed by Francis Lawrence a success, especially due to its dream cast. Water for Elephants is a suprising turn for the director of Constantine and I Am Legend. The fears about his unfamiliarity with the romantic genre were understandable but in this movie he quickly proves that he has understood the expectations of his new audience.
Water for Elephants proportions perfectly the ingredients needed to make a traditional romantic movie without adding too much sweetness into the mix. However, one could be put off by the opening: an old man telling his story, narrating it as a voice-over – the opening is in fact the only bad thing about the film. Once the film takes us into the past of the hero, Jacob (Robert Pattinson) the story shifts without difficulty into a well constructed classic scenario based not only on romantic issues but also on the nomad universe in which the characters evolve. A universe that Lawrence chose to convey not through the prism of baroque fantasy or dreams but with realism, with all the social misery that the period of the Great Depression entailed. The metaphorical dimension of the train whose employees have become useless is inescapable. This is the context in which Robert Pattinson plays the archetypal character of an educated young man turned outcast following the death of his parents who becomes a foreigner in his own world and decides to abandon it. As you might expect, he falls in love with Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), the wife of August (Christoph Waltz), the violent and unstable boss.
With ambitious art direction, the charm of Water for Elephants obviously also rests on its cast: Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon form a very cute couple on screen. Getting away from Twilight and recently seen in Remember Me, Robert Pattinson proves in this film that his talent is not limited to portraying handsome hunks and makes a very endearing Jacob, armed with his boyish smile. However Francis Lawrence sometimes misses opportunities for sensuality in the scenes between the hero and his partner. The filmmaker manages to raise tensions at the height of the love triangle, with Christoph Waltz excelling in the role of the powerful psychopath who is both terrifying and unpredictable. This is done differently to the style of Tarantino. Yet, emotions are truly heightened through the character of Rosie the elephant who will become the object of a power struggle both within the circus and in Marlena’s heart. Animal lovers, this film is for you.
So yes, with its familiar themes and melodramatic moments (which are tastefully done and not too pronounced), this new Francis Lawrence creation is one of those romantic movies that will quickly find its way into people’s hearts. It demonstrates that classicism in a movie is not always a drawback. Water for Elephants is like one of those candies that, provided it is not eaten too often, can bring the most wonderful dream to life.