Adapted from the popular novel by Sara Gruen, this romantic drama set during the Depression features a credible and sympathetic performance from Robert Pattinson as an orphaned veterinary student who joins a traveling circus. Yet the film otherwise suffers from a lack of showmanship: Reese Witherspoon is too cool and brittle as the glamorous equestrian rider who captures the veterinarian’s heart, and Christoph Waltz, playing her suave but brutal ringmaster husband, radiates little of the charisma he brought to Inglourious Basterds. Neither the lush imagery of cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto nor the ungainly screenplay by Richard LaGravenese manages to convey the harshness or desperation of the times. Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) directed.
Water for Elephants
PG-13 • 2 hours • 2011