Circus drama: 'Water for Elephants' an old fashioned love story

There's something endearingly old-fashioned about a love story involving a beautiful bareback rider and a kid who runs off to join the circus. What makes Water for Elephants more intriguing is a third character, reminding us why Christoph Waltz deserved his Academy Award. He plays the circus owner, who is married to the bareback rider and keeps her and everyone else in his iron grip.

The story, based on the best-seller by Sara Gruen, is told as a flashback by an old man named Jacob (Hal Holbrook), who lost his parents in 1931, dropped out of the Cornell veterinary school, hit the road and hopped a train that happened, wouldn't you know, to be a circus train. Played by Robert Pattinson as a youth, he is naive and excited, and his eyes fill with wonder as he sees the beautiful Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) on her white show horse. The owner, August (Waltz), is prepared to throw him off the train until he learns young Jacob knows something about veterinary medicine. Full review.