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Family-Faith Film Review: Water for Elephants

April 29, 2011

Family-Faith Film Review: Water for Elephants
By Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting

Water for Elephants: Life under the big top is not all clowns and cotton candy in this lavish but morally flawed period drama, adapted from Sara Gruen’s eponymous novel. In the depths of the Great Depression, a promising veterinary student (Robert Pattinson), whose dreams have been shattered by fate, jumps a train and inadvertently lands in the midst of a traveling circus. Though his knowledge of animals soon draws the attention of the enterprise’s loathsome owner (Christoph Waltz), disaster looms when the newcomer falls for the star of the show (Reese Witherspoon) who turns out to be the boss’ wife. From there, the operatic proceedings barrel along to a shocking climax. While artfully conceived and well acted, director Francis Lawrence’s film accepts — and even glamorizes — adultery, albeit within the context of an extreme situation. Intense violence, including murder and animal abuse, nongraphic but implicitly condoned adultery, partial nudity, at least one use of profanity, two crude terms. O — morally offensive. (PG-13) 2011

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