I went and saw Water for Elephants today with the M’s (Mom, Michelle, and Megan) and Patrick. I read the book a few years back — it was circling like wildfire through my campus’s English department — and loved it. But there were some facets of the book that miffed me — in particular, the quasi-hero status of the protagonist. It was as if every time you thought you could trust in the character’s true moral fiber — that he would stand up to the abusive world and hold his ground — he let you down. Not that it isn’t nice to see a character progress and grow to be stronger and braver throughout a piece of work, but Jacob, the main character, stands by dumbfounded for much of the plot, which is set in an uncomfortable world where what one man says goes (whether it’s the banker, the ringleader, the Depression, or the Prohibitionist government). At any rate, I felt while reading the book that the main character had a lot of stereotypical feminine characteristics, mainly that he held back and waited for the world to act first. This may be entirely sexist of me, but I couldn’t help but think that it was obvious that the book was written by a cisgender female. It may have been elaborate descriptions of the circus performer’s outfits or of Marlena’s shapely calves as she walked up the stairs, but the voice of the first-person narrator was that of a female author — not of a lonely, gruff old man — but a woman that really knows the art of watching from behind the side curtain, waiting for the moment to get a word or an action in edgewise, one who knows what it’s like to have her hands invisibly tied and be intimidated by men.
At any rate, I really loved Reese Witherspoon’s clothes in the movie, and I really need to put an outfit together that looks like this:
Another thing that I found intriguing: Marlena’s (Witherspoon’s) hair. In the book, she’s a brunette (and I don’t remember her being so much older?). In the movie, she’s bottle-blonde. But it’s more than that. It’s the style. Witherspoon looks like she’s styled after movie-stars back then, like Jean Harlow or Mae West. She comes across more emotionally depleted because of her age and blonde hair. More bleached by life, if you will. Which, I thought, added depth.
It was nice to get out and see a film — it’s been ages since I’ve sat in the dark of a movie theater and sipped Cherry Coke! I love the movies; I love their magic.