Yesterday, a trailer debuted on the Apple website. A trailer that film fans have been waiting for for years. A period drama, with modern-day sequences, with a heartthrob in the lead role, and clearly aiming for a certain lyrical quality. A film that Fox Searchlight will release next spring. A trailer that blew our goddamn minds.That trailer, as you may have noticed, was not “Water For Elephants.”
Debuting on the same day as the first promo for Terrence Malick‘s is a big ask for anyone. Fortunately, as the first big studio lead for “Twilight” star Robert Pattinson, there’s a built-in fanbase at work that means it’s unlikely to be totally overlooked. Based on the novel by Sara Gruen, the artist-formerly-known-as-Edward-Cullen stars as an aspiring vet who falls in with a traveling circus, and falls in love with the beautiful wife (Reese Witherspoon) of the charismatic but cruel head animal trainer (Christoph Waltz).
It seems like a fairly standard love triangle, but one with some admittedly handsome production value — unsurprising, considering that director Francis Lawrence (“Constantine,” “I Am Legend“) is at the helm, and his previous films have been, while not very good, at least visually sumptuous. Working from a script by the Oscar-nominated Richard LaGravenese (“The Fisher King“) will hopefully bring a little more substance this time around.
Because, if we’re being honest, this doesn’t look too bad. It certainly seems familiar, right down to the present-day framing device (which should at least be elevated by the actors involved, Hal Holbrook and Paul Schneider), but the production design and cinematography (from “Brokeback Mountain” DP Rodrigo Prieto) are stunning, and even R-Patz seems to be acquitting himself relatively well. But maybe we’ve just been softened up by the use of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis‘ score to “The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford.”
We’re not saying that it’ll be a world-class piece of filmmaking, but it could be a relatively entertaining melodrama, and probably your mom’s favorite film of 2011. We’ll find out if our optimism is misplaced when it hits theaters on April 15th next year. Watch the trailer below, or head over to Apple to see it in HD.