Water For Elephants: "I'm Not Running Away. I'm Coming Home"

Director:   Francis Lawrence
Writer:      Richard LaGravenese
Starring:   Reese Witherspoon
                 Robert Pattinson
                 Christoph Waltz
                 Tai the Elephant
                 Hal Holbrook
                 Mark Povinelli
                 Jim Norton
Rating:      ****

Home Release: Out Now

This big screen adaption of the popular Sara Gruen novel is sweet, romantic and beautifully acted.

The film starts with an older gentleman named Jacob Jankowski (Holbrook) wandering outside the bigtop circus. When he is brought in by the staff he begins to tell his story of running away and working with the Benzini Brothers circus. Holbrook's few scenes are lovely to watch because you really get the feel that he loved his job and misses it dearly and would do anything to be back there. Once he starts to tell the story you then start to follow Jacob when he was younger (Pattinson). Whilst taking his veterinary finals at college he finds out his parents have died, and with no home and family he decides to run away, hitching a ride on the circus train. Here his life changes and he begins to fall in love, not only with the circus, but also the head performer, Marlena (Witherspoon). Pattinson really understands the character and gives him a real heart, especially with the animals. When the elephant, Rosie (Tai), arrives, you can really see how much he adores her, and it is clear that he loved off screen as well as off. He is a very caring character with the animals, but also to Marlena, who he starts to fall in love with and wants to protect. His performance is very convincing and once he gets away from Twilight he will really develop as an actor.

Witherspoon makes Marlena feisty and sexy, aswell as kind and nurturing. Her relationship ,again with Rosie, is so sweet and she really adores her with all her might. She plays the role quite subtle, but all the emotion is there and comes across perfectly on screen. Here and Pattinson's chemistry is pot on and they really play off each other well, especially in the high emotional scenes. They also work well together in the quiet and subtle scenes, and are able to adapt to whatever is asked of them. Finally, when she is with her husband in the film, August (Waltz), she shows a very vulnerable and almost weak side. But as the film goes on and her relationship with Jacob developes, she gets stronger and is able to stand up to August when she needs. That is when the feisty side of the character really comes through, and Witherspoon is at her best.

Waltz is clearly very good at playing the villain, he was amazing in "Inglorious Basterds" and again he blew me away in this film. His manipulative streak really shows in this film, and Waltz truely succeeds at making a hateful villain. He has this magical way of making you think he is remorseful, but then at the flip of a switch he turns and goes on hateful tirades around the cricus. He is especially hateful when he is beating Rosie with the bullhook, and it was those scenes that were quite hard to watch. It truley is amazing how Rosie, the elephant, can tie these three characters together so well and make a wonderful film. Tai, despite being an animal, is so engaging and delightful to watch that ost of the time you watch her rather than the acting, but altogether with the actors it really is brilliant.

The supporting cast add an extra layer to the film but nothing new. Camel and Kinko (Norton & Povinelli) are good actors and play the roles well, but weren't the best thing in the film, and they certainly weren't able to steal any scenes. The directing and writing is excellent, and despite the fact I haven't read the novel, I really feel it was made superbly. It's out now on DVD, and I suggest you go and grab yourself a copy as soon as possible.