The Greatest Showman tells the tale of P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman); an entertainer, philanthropist, and entrepreneur, and to some, a fraud. He brought together a group of extraordinary people and performers and put them on a stage for the whole world to see, rather than have them hiding their faces as they have their whole lives.
He was a man born from nothing. The son of a tailor, his life was lit only by his family; his wife Charity (Michelle Williams) and his two daughters, for whom he had promised a magical future. He ended up inciting the magic himself, creating the attraction P.T. Barnum’s Circus, raking in money by showing off everyone from a bearded lady with a beautiful singing voice, to the tallest man you’ve ever seen, right down to the shortest. It was quite an impressive collection of curios, and one that drew crowds all across America.
A few of Barnum’s showmen and women are given a bit more spotlight in this telling of the tale than others. He collects a brother and sister trapeze duo, Anne (Zendaya) and W.D (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) Wheeler, and also finds himself a business partner and investor in Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron). These help to put a voice to the show’s performers, and serve in their own ways as subplots when focus drifts from Barnum himself.
The Greatest Showman shines as one of the year’s best musicals. An original score and instantly classic songs come together with beautiful performances by all the cast and exquisite choreography for a feel-good visit to the cinema that will have you dancing in your seat. Jackman is clearly in his element, and reveling in the fact that he’s back in the dancing shoes and not weighed down by Adamantium, and Efron has his head back in the game and looks like he hasn’t had this much fun in years. It’s sometimes hard to tell who has the better chemistry – Efron and Zendaya or Efron and Jackman.
While the film could have potentially benefited from more substantial backstories to the coloured crew of the circus, it is a supremely enjoyable romp, and one that begs to be made into a stage show. Director Gracey has created a film that encapsulates the magic of the circus and of music wonderfully.
In cinemas: December 26, 2017
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Zendaya, Zac Efron
Directed by: Michael Gracey