Robert Pattinson can give some more emotion in his performance but I think it's not bad at all. It somehow fits his character as Jacob, a restrained, confused and innocent young man finding himself in a world he considered as purgatory.
For me, the actors were well considered for their respective roles, so this issue on matching thing is no big deal for me. Roles suggest that Marlena is more matured and sensual while Jacob is innocent and naive. So both Pattinson and Witherspoon only acted what are required from them for their characters. The support actors were equally well casted and the animals of course, the elephant especially, impressed those who watched the movie.
One of my builds in the film is the narration of the story of the old Jacob. I agree that this story is really best narrated but I think there's another creative execution in doing this. Well, this old folks narrating their past lives have been done for so many times (e.g. Titanic) but I don't judge the film based on that. If the director and writer thinks that that is the best way to tell the story, then so be it. I only wished for a better creative execution setting since the film is largely classy and I think the narration part is too plain for the film.
I like the cinematography but think the men behind the camera could have explored more artistic and cinematic angles. The panoramic views are there and what is lacking is just a matter of more creative framing and lighting. But nonetheless, I still think the film's cinematography worked well.
Contrary to earlier reviews, I consider Water for Elephants one of the very good films produced at this early part of the year. And I won't be surprised if the movie, and some of its actors, gets nominated next year.