Director: Michael Gracey
Writers: Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Michelle Williams
Yesterday we kicked off our film viewings for 2018 and quite frankly we consider the bar to have been set quite high. The Greatest Showman isn’t receiving particularly impressive reviews from critics, and it’s not the first time that I find myself in complete disagreement with the “professionals”.
The story of The Greatest Showman is at its core somewhat of a cliche, despite the narrative threads around it being a unique telling of P.T Barnum’s (Hugh Jackman) of what we would consider modern day show business and the invention of the Circus. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as Michael Gracey takes what many films would consider too cliche and portrays them, whether it be through music or otherwise, in new and exciting ways.
The film itself has been in development since 2009, with Hugh Jackman portraying it as his passion project, having been on board since the beginning. The fact shows in the movie as the Australian juggernaut absolutely thrives in his role and you can almost witness his enthusiasm seeping into his cast members in various scenes throughout the film. Speaking of which, there isn’t a single member of the cast who put in so much as a reserved performance. I would argue that everyone in the film is either strong in this film or great. This is no more evident than in the gorgeously choreographed music sequences of the film, where even the most unimportant characters can shine if you spend long enough watching them. Anne Wheeler (Zendaya) and Lettie Lutz (Keala Settle) is a perfect example of this, as she is inherently a secondary character and yet her performances during musical numbers (And performance in general) is almost show stealing.
The characters themselves are, for the most part, well thought out and substantial. The film does a good job of making you care about these characters and whilst there are some characters who could have done with more backstory and motivations, Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron) and sadly the acts in Barnham’s circus being examples of those who lack in any meaningful backstory.
With that being said, even the most minor character has a role to play in this film and with a dash more meat to some of them it could have pushed the film towards even greater heights than I’m already prepared to say it has reached.
Finally, the main thing you will come away from the movie talking about isn’t the movie, or the characters, it’s the music. Whilst this will not come as a surprise to many of you, the music in this film was outstanding. Songs such as The Greatest Show, This is Me and Rewrite the stars will be stuck in your head for days and they’re certainly worthy of being placed among some of the other great musical numbers. I would be shocked if none of the above receive Oscar nods come February.