By Kristen Cloyed, Contributor
Robert Pattinson proves he is more than just a sparkly bloodsucker in his latest film, “Water for Elephants.” Outshining two Oscar winners in most of his scenes, Pattinson delivers with passion and intensity absent from the “Twilight” films.
Based on Sara Gruen’s best-selling novel of the same name, “Water for Elephants” is a timeless love story. The movie opens with Jacob Jankowski (Hal Holbrook), a retired circus hand who sits down to share the story of his glory days working for the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.
Jacob (Pattinson) is a veterinary student at Cornell. Just shy of earning his degree, Jacob is yanked from his last exam with news of a horrible accident. Lost and lonely, he jumps on the first train he sees only to find an extravagant traveling circus inside.
Jacob falls hard for Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), the ringleader’s wife and beautiful equestrian star when they are brought together to care for Rosie, an untrainable elephant and the only hope to save the third-rate show. Her husband, August (Christoph Waltz), is both charismatic and cruel, making Jacob’s experiences with the circus both a salvation and a living hell.
“Water for Elephants” is equally emotionally heavy and visually stunning. The circus sets are glamorous but rare. The movie focuses instead on the relationships between the characters.
For the most part, the movie holds true to the original novel. Director Francis Lawrence filmed each scene with care, quality and attention to detail. Each scene feels incredibly real, with few of the computerized images so often seen in today’s films.
Witherspoon and Waltz don’t disappoint either. Even after all the nasty things August does, it is still hard to see him broken up over losing control with Rosie. Witherspoon is dazzling as the show’s star attraction. She performs like a true circus act, tackling most of her own stunts and smiling at all the right times. This is her best performance since “Walk the Line” in 2005.
It’s a good thing Edward Cullen will soon be a thing of the past. Backed by a substantial story and breathtaking visuals, maybe Pattinson can finally be taken seriously as an actor.