The Greatest Showman is the movie that I am the most excited about to be released on Boxing Day. The film is an original movie musical and period story on how P. T. Barnum started the Barnum & Bailey Circus. While the film does have many historical inaccuracies, don’t let that deter you away from the magic that is Hugh Jackman. Yeah, that’s right. I called Hugh Jackman ‘magic’.
Hugh Jackman has been a driving force behind this film, pushing for this movie musical to be made for 7 and a half years, and every moment that he is on-screen is spectacular. We follow Hugh Jackman’s character P. T. Barnum’s story through poverty to show business glory.
Barnum follows his journey with his wife Charity played by Michelle Williams and his children Helen and Caroline played by Cameron Seely and Austyn Johnson. Barnum employs many odd characters for his business venture including Keala Settle who plays Lettie Lutz: the Bearded Lady, two trapeze artists with one trapeze artist played by Zendaya as Anne Wheeler, and charismatic playwright Phillip Carlyle played by Zac Efron. While Barnum’s employees are all from different walks of life, they all band together tightly like a family with mutual love, respect and support for each other.
It was so great to see Zac Efron singing and dancing again. He’s hasn’t sung and danced on screen in 10 years (not since Hairspray), but seeing him perform in The Greatest Showman felt natural and that he was right where he belonged. The chemistry between his character Phillip Carlyle and Zendaya’s Anne Wheeler felt electric and believable, although a bit brief. I would like to have seen more scenes and development between these characters and the exploration on forbidden romance due to class and race. I did however love Efron’s on-screen chemistry with Jackman. The choreography for their duet “The Otherside” is impeccable. Although their characters come from different walks of life, they seemed to have an understanding and almost brotherly love.
Michelle Williams surprised me with her singing ability, I’ve never really paid much attention to her since her Dawson’s Creek days, but I was very impressed. You really felt Charity’s loneliness and views on materialistic things.
While it is evident that I adore The Greatest Showman, it is not without flaws. Rebecca Ferguson as Jenny Lind is a waste. Not only can she not actually sing and is lip-synching the whole time (real vocals were by Loren Allred), but she does lip-synching terribly, is unconvincing and for some reason always has the same emotionless expression throughout the film. My mind can’t comprehend why anyone would employ an actor who cannot sing to star in an original movie musical. Seriously. Why?
Keala Settle as the Bearded Lady blew me away with her incredible talent. The theme song of The Greatest Showman titled “This Is Me” that Settle sings is an amazing number written and composed by songwriting duo, Pasek and Paul. I have been a fan of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul since their days writing for the TV show Smash. Since then, I’ve followed their career having been a fan of their brief musical stints on TV show, The Flash, have watched their musical Dogfight live on stage and have been recently obsessed over their Tony Award winning musical, Dear Evan Hansen. When I heard that Pasek and Paul were doing the music and lyrics for The Greatest Showman, it was this fact alone that sold me on seeing the film.
From upbeat tunes “The Greatest Show” and “Come Alive”, to ballads “Rewrite the Stars” and “A Million Dreams”, every single song by the songwriting duo is catchy, wonderful and is an audio masterpiece. My favourite song from the film is “From Now On” which is played at a pivotal point of the story and displays not only Hugh Jackman’s incredible acting abilities, but his insane vocal talents. The notes he hits in this number honestly gave me goosebumps with his performance moving me to tears. I wanted to find my tissues to wipe my eyes, but I couldn’t bare look away as I didn’t want to miss a single moment of this scene.
The Greatest Showman is visually stunning with great cinematography and impressive costumes, contained with musical magic provided by Pasek and Paul, and is by far one of Hugh Jackman’s greatest achievements. I have never seen the man so happy to be a part of a film. His portrayal of P. T. Barnum is an emotional rollercoaster, and I promise you, the ride is worth it. I have not stopped listening to the soundtrack since watching this film and I really hope that it wins some awards. So what if it’s historically inaccurate? I went for the performances, the music, Hugh Jackman – and I fucking loved it.