Evening Express (City Final) - The Guide - - LET’S PARTY - By Da­mon Smith

Can Robert Pat­tin­son win new

fans with Wa­ter For Ele­phants?

TWI­LIGHT pin-up Robert Pat­tin­son puts a lit­tle colour in his cheeks in Fran­cis Lawrence’s gor­geously framed film about a doomed love af­fair in a 1930s cir­cus troupe. Wa­ter For Ele­phants is an im­por­tant barom­e­ter of the young ac­tor’s ap­peal away from Stephe­nie Meyer’s feud­ing vam­pires and were­wolves, and an in­di­ca­tion of his po­ten­tial longevity as a ro­man­tic male lead. Pat­tin­son ac­quits him­self well, play­ing to his strengths – angst-rid­den glances straight into the cam­era – as one point of a volatile love tri­an­gle that is des­tined to end in tragedy. He demon­strates im­pres­sive emo­tional range and al­though screen chem­istry with Os­car-win­ner Reese Wither­spoon doesn’t ex­actly set our hearts aflut­ter, they are an at­trac­tive pair­ing. The film opens in the present day with nona­ge­nar­ian Ja­cob Jankowski (Hal Hol­brook) ar­riv­ing at a cir­cus man­aged by Char­lie (Paul Sch­nei­der) dur­ing a down­pour. At first, Char­lie thinks that the con­fused old man has strayed from a care home, but it soon tran­spires that Ja­cob spent his for­ma­tive years with the in­fa­mous Ben­zini Bros Cir­cus. “Got any­thing to drink around here that isn’t ap­ple juice?” asks Ja­cob as the two men sit down in the of­fice, dry­ing off. With a glass of liquor to hand, Ja­cob be­gins to re­count his life story, step­ping back in time seven decades to his stu­dent days at Cor­nell Univer­sity. Poised to take his fi­nal ve­teri­nary exam, Ja­cob (now played by Pat­tin­son) learns that his par­ents have been killed in a car ac­ci­dent and aban­dons his stud­ies. With debts to pay and no roof over his head, the young man hitches a ride on a pass­ing train, un­aware it be­longs to the cir­cus run by Au­gust Rosen­bluth (Christoph Waltz). The tyrant phys­i­cally and men­tally abuses an­i­mals and per­form­ers, in­clud­ing his beau­ti­ful wife Mar­lena (Wither­spoon) who rides the horses. When Ja­cob falls un­der Mar­lena’s spell, he tries to re­sist his feel­ings, work­ing along­side the wife to win the trust of a spe­cial ele­phant. How­ever, when Au­gust no­tices the way that the young man stares at Mar­lena, he ex­acts a hor­rific re­venge. Wa­ter For Ele­phants casts a spell with its ar­rest­ing vi­su­als and the cast looks rav­ish­ing through a soft-fo­cus lens. Cin­e­matog­ra­pher Ro­drigo Pri­eto, who pre­vi­ously shot Broke­back Moun­tain and Biu­ti­ful, pro­vides a pic­turesque can­vas for Richard LaGrave­nese’s

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