The Greatest Showman
I would not call this a biopic entirely. It basically takes chapters out of the story of P.T. Barnum and recreates its own sweet fantasy world.
“The noblest art is that of making others happy”
― P.T. Barnum
A world, where no matter how bad things are, or how fate deals out its cards to you, eventually things will be fine, cos you will make them fine.
Taking creative liberties in showcasing the true story and nature of its central character, debutante director Michael Gracey along with Hugh Jackman laves no stone unturned in presenting Jackman the star, the singer and actor in as many shades possible, without ever turning him into anything but a visionary dreamer, one who only wants to fulfil dreams; his family’s, his and of his team, in that order respectively.
Presented simply as a musical, the film’s real narrative is not the struggle of Barnum in the entertainment business, but Barnum’s internal fight for acceptance. I have said this to quite a few people in my life, if you chase the thought of being accepted by others, you will only be chasing a mirage, cos that will never happen. The moment you learn to be happy with yourself, that’s when life starts treating you the way you deserve.
Similar is the presentation of Barnum’s struggle for acceptance in a world, which he believes should have been welcoming him, rather than snob at him.
Paul Sparks, (House of Cards, The Crown) as the founder, publisher and editor of the New York Herald, comes up with the best advice / critic to Barnum’s way of business. As a matter of fact, his is the only interaction with Barnum, which regularly shows Barnum’s true nature and wit, as the struggle between the fraud entertainer and the so called gatekeeper of the elitist.
Zac Efron, obviously taken in for the younger audiences is decent, playing along well with his side story of a rich socialite falling in love with a coloured trapeze artist Anne Wheeler (Zendaya, Shake it Up, Let it Shine).
Keala Settle, the Broadway artist, as Lettie Lutz, the Bearded lady is the strong artist from the bunch of oddities hired by Barnum, leading to her song, This is me, being earning a Golden Globe nomination for the awards next weekend.
Rebecca Ferguson as the Jenny Lind gives a terrific performance as the nomadic singer. One can see the effort put in by her during her songs, wherein in order to get into the character in front of the crew and junior artistes, she actually sang the song with the same gusto, knowing very well it was not her voice coming in the film.
Oscar nominated Michelle Williams comes across as a supporting role as the every supporting and loving wife, Charity Barnum, but in the second half the lady shows her mettle both in her singing and acting. A very nuanced and delicately handled job by the ever talented 4 times Oscar nominated Williams, for her work in Blue Valentine and My Week with Marilyn and the recent Manchester by the Sea.
The film belongs to Jackman and rightfully so. He has been developing this project since 2009. So it is bound to be close to his heart and it shows in his performance. We all know he is a good actor and a talented singer, but he mixes these 2 qualities and presents it in such a layered manner, where during each act of the film, you somehow wonder, if there is now going to be a new facet of Barnum that you might be presented with. His version of Barnum is troubled, hurt, strong, loving but above all a visionary. His only intent for quite a large part of the film is to ensure the well being of his loved ones, presented beautifully in his attempt to make his daughter not quit ballet. Sure, he does have his misgivings, but his true intent is never at fault. After Logan, Hugh Jackman delivers another rock solid performance.
There are touching moments in the film, but the highlights are the songs, written by the same team of La La Land and the choreography of some of them. The highlight of them being the terrace song and the bar song. Touch of class.
After some time a movie comes from Hollywood which makes you feel nice when you leave the theatres. A must watch.
Does it have The Y Factor : YES
RATING : 3.5/5