Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson give mesmerising performances in this visually lush and epic romantic drama which tells the powerfully emotional story of two people who pursue their love against all odds, rules and conventions, set in the alluring and enigmatic world of a travelling circus. Based upon the international best-selling novel by Sara Gruen.
Titanic in a circus tent is how I would describe this movie as the plots are almost similar, involving a love "wreck"tangle between two people and a third party. Depending on your p.o.v., Robert Pattinson as would-be vet Jacob Jankowski is that third party, having the misfortune of learning he has lost both his parents and his home at one fell swoop, suffers a nervous breakdown just before his final exams, and runs away, only to fortuitously end up in a travelling circus where he is employed to look after the menagerie. Here he encounters the beautiful Marlena, the leading performer who is married to circus owner August, who can be alternatingly charming and brutal depending on the his moods. Jacob falls in love with Marlena, and she reciprocates, and that's the basic premise of this historical movie, set in the early years of the Great Depression. Of course, what would a circus be without animals? Rosie the elephant literally steals the show and the viewers' hearts at the same time. The scenes of animal cruelty are predictably disturbing and distressing to watch, but for those who protest and advocate boycotting the movie for this reason,please remember that this is a period film which protrays the reality of life at the time, and that it DOES NOT in any way promote nor condone animal abuse, it was simply the status quo then. That would be like saying "Gone With the Wind" endorses slavery just because it portrays such a situation. I have had the good fortune of reading the Sara Gruen novel ages before the film adaptation was even conceived, and while there are a few omissions and detractions from the original (No Uncle Al or nurse Rosemary, and Marlena is depicted as being an orphan raised in foster homes instead of coming from a prominent family), I do not find these deviations very distracting. This movie is one of the very few that have managed to capture the essence of the original book. Truly worth watching if you like romance and animals.
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