Remember my Water for Elephants review? I loved the book. It was wonderful. Read it in one day, and thought it was lovely. It was lovely in a raw and gritty circus animal way. At the end of my review I let you all know that I hadn’t seen the movie, but I’d let you know what I thought of it when I did. Well, now I’ve seen it and I’m royally disappointed.
It’s too clean.
The set looks clean, the characters are too clean. The magic of the gritty circus look is absolutely missing. I love Reese Witherspoon to death, but she was utterly wrong for the role of Marlena. Her acting is always impeccably perfect, but to no fault of her own she’s too blonde, too beautiful, and too old for the role. Vampire Boy/ Cedric Diggory/ Robert whats-his-face is entirely the wrong look as well. He should be a red head, couldn’t they have dyed his hair? Even the midget is too pretty of a midget. And the character that gets the Jakes should have looked a little more like Dopey from the 7 Dwarfs… no one looks their part. The train is too clean, the tents are too clean. Where are the dust bowls? Where’s the Depression?
In addition to all this clean-ness, the cinematography is too crisp. But not in a new movie way, its crisp like I’m watching an afternoon soap opera, or someone’s home movie. Everything is so bright, in the book I imagined the circus being a small series of twinkles in a long road of darkness.
The structure and mood of the movie is nothing of that of the book. If you’ve read the book, you remember the opening? The scene that sets up the premise for all that is to come – the scene that makes you want to read the rest of the book in the first place? That scene is completely omitted from the opening of the film. What’s so depressing about that is that they filmed it! You see it at the end! Why didn’t they edit it so that it matched the genius of the bookend style that Sara Gruen so brilliantly wrote?
As the last scene closes, my best friend, who waited to watch the movie with me because we both loved the book so much says, “That was lame.”
The movie had no umph.