Water for Elephants–Movie Review

As we walked out, Lindsay said, “I feel like I’ve been traumatized.”

Every freaking commercial we saw plugged this movie as a romance. But there were 10 minutes of romance in the 120-minute film. Total bait-and-switch technique.

Don’t promise me a romance and then force me to watch a historic movie where animals are beaten, women are beaten, and old people are tossed off trains. It was as violent as watching news coverage of the Middle East.

At one point, Lindsay turned to me and said, “If I have to watch one more animal get hurt, I’m out of here.”

I agreed.

Look, I get that this is a gritty realistic portrayal of 1930s carnival life. But why in the name of all that is sacred did the marketing team bill it as a romance?!

We never saw why Jacob fell in love with Marlena. Honestly, they barely interacted. Their only bond seemed to be a mutual sense of kindness to animals that was repulsed by the carnival owner’s brutality.

After watching a horse get its brains blown out, then an elephant repeatedly beaten and left bleeding, I had zero interest in this movie. Total turnoff.

So when the starcrossed-lovers finally kissed, I didn’t care.

I felt lied to and misled by the movie promoters. Like I was forced to watch a movie I didn’t sign up to see, which destroyed my ability to take anything away from this movie.

Except a need for an hour of Disney tv to bring my mind back from the absolute revulsion of this film.

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8 Responses to Water for Elephants–Movie Review

  1. Nora says:

    I enjoyed the book and was looking forward to the movie but I’d read tepid reviews about the two leads. I put the movie in my Net Flex Que. Sounds like I made a good choice from your review. I can always fast forward the scenes where at the Movies it’s a good bathroom break, but how many times can you go? Thanks, for letting me know. Nora

    • I’d have spent an hour and 50 minutes in the bathroom if I left during t the parts I didn’t like. I’m betting the book was good because it looks like it was marketed as a historic novel with a minor romantic element. If I had any interest in carnival life in the 1930s this might have been a movie I enjoyed. But they sold it to me as a romance and I went in expecting that and thinking the carnival was the subplot not the romance. The evil husband/ ringleader was fabulously played. Rob did a good job as the coming of age guy. It wasn’t Reese’s best work. I think the script kinda let them down in terms of building the romance. Not necessarily bad acting, but just not given the opportunity to act. The pacing also was amish-carriage-ride-with-a-broken-wheel slow. My bff and I were constantly checking out phones to find out when this would be over.

  2. Lucas says:

    Gosh, I’m glad I didn’t see this movie. Watching animal cruelty is very upsetting to me and gives me bad dreams. Maybe you will have better luck with the next Twilight or Harry Potter movie.

    • I hardly ever watch movies where animals are abused and when it’s unexpected it just jars me too much. At least I know what I’m getting with Twilight and Harry Potter. This was nightmarish because it came out of nowhere. I guess that was my mistake–not reading the book first. But really, shame on the marketing team for billing this as a romance when it was clearly not intended to be one. A memoir. A historic look at 1930s carnival life. A coming of age story. Those are the major angles that should have been played up.

  3. Bess says:

    Oh I am so glad you posted this Kourtney! I’ve been dying to see it, but will definitely save my $9. It looks like a beautiful film, but I too would have gone into it expecting a sweet story…thanks for saving me the trauma!

    • I was expecting A Walk in The Clouds and got Platoon. Seriously jolting. And shady marketing of the film. Glad I could save you from the horror. Three hours of Disney tv finally chilled me out. 🙂

  4. berry says:

    That sounds horrific. I would have walked out and demanded my money back. I hate when animals are mistreated. But killed. That man. should have been killed.

    • Let’s just say he gets what he deserves in the end. Next time we will. It was just too brutal and not the story we were promised. Lindsay’s a cat lover and I’m a dog owner so watching animals get harmed really rattled us.

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