By Simon Dang | The Playlist November 24, 2010 at 3:21AM
Yes, this is the film "Inglourious Basterds" breakout star and Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz chose to do over David Cronenberg's psychosexual drama about the story of friends-turned-rivals Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, "A Dangerous Method." We didn't understand it then; we still don't understand it now.
Nevertheless, here is the first look (found on an advertisement for a tie-in novel cover) at stars Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon and Waltz, complete with extravagant costuming, in Francis Lawrence's adaptation of Sara Gruen's popular historical romance novel "Water For Elephants. The depression-era period story follows veterinary school drop-out, Jacob Jankowski (Pattinson), who joins a traveling circus known as the Benzini Brothers' Most Spectacular Show On Earth run by a sadistic boss (Waltz) and falls for the star performer Marlena (Witherspoon).
The film will mark major post-breakout roles for Pattinson and Waltz, who are respectively following iconic roles in the 'Twilight' franchise and the aforementioned Quentin Tarantino film. It'll also be Lawrence's first feature since the 2007 Will Smith-led box office monster that was "I Am Legend" -- though he reportedly had a hand in "fixing" Jimmy Hayward's "Jonah Hex" starring Josh Brolin -- and the film has a script by Richard LaGravenese ("P.S. I Love You"). Here's the full synopsis of Gruen's novel courtesy of Amazon.
With its spotlight on elephants, Gruen's romantic page-turner hinges on the human-animal bonds that drove her debut and its sequel (Riding Lessons and Flying Changes)—but without the mass appeal that horses hold. The novel, told in flashback by nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski, recounts the wild and wonderful period he spent with the Benzini Brothers' Most Spectacular Show on Earth, a traveling circus he joined during the Great Depression. When 23-year-old Jankowski learns that his parents have been killed in a car crash, leaving him penniless, he drops out of Cornell veterinary school and parlays his expertise with animals into a job with the circus, where he cares for a menagerie of exotic creatures[...] He also falls in love with Marlena, one of the show's star performers — a romance complicated by Marlena's husband, the unbalanced, sadistic circus boss who beats both his wife and the animals Jankowski cares for. Despite her often clichéd prose and the predictability of the story's ending, Gruen skillfully humanizes the midgets, drunks, rubes and freaks who populate her book.
"Water For Elephants" also co-stars Hal Holbrook, Paul Schneider and James Frain and is set to hit theaters on April 15th. [Algonquin Books via Collider]