Thanks to 20th Century Fox we had the chance to see The Greatest Showman at its Australian Premiere. This is our review of the movie, but as usual, no matter what we say, we still recommend you to go and see it at your local cinema because there is no better critic than yourself!
Hugh Jackman is unquestionably Australia’s greatest showman right now – there is no equal. The triple threat can sing, dance and act and his latest venture requires him to flex his considerable talents throughout The Greatest Showman.
Based on the true story of P.T Barnum – father, entrepreneur, charismatic showman, rogue and the man that created the modern circus as we know it – Barnum sets about to prove he belongs in the world of aristocrats. The premise follows many of its predecessors in that it’s your typical rags to riches story where the more wealth you accumulate, the more you lose of one’s true self.
The story tells the journey of Barnum coming from a poor background as the son of a tailor. He leaves to join the railroad and make his ‘fortune’ in an effort to prove his worth and right to marry the love of his life, the daughter of one of his father’s pompous clientele.
At its heart, The Greatest Showman seeks to explore class divisions, human perception and flaws in character. Barnum’s use or exploitation of the macabre, with midget leads, wolfmen and a bearded lady, to name but a few, show his ‘visionary’ side but also his manipulative persona that is glossed over in the film. While the backlash and uproar that Barnum’s ‘freak show’ causes in the local community, demonstrates the troubled and prejudiced beliefs of people of the time.
But it’s in his discovery of English Opera singer, Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson), takes him from the obscure to the en-vogue. However, the credibility that has alluded him all his life does not materialise and he goes on to overlook those that made his fortune – perpetuating the same archetypal attitudes that left his ‘freaks’ on the fringes of society. Following a scandal with Lind that leads to him almost losing his family and going bankrupt, it’s up to his circus performers to show the same empathy and belief that Barnum once showed them, to rebuild so that the show can go on.
At The helm is Australian Director, Michael Gracey, who manages to tell the enthralling, albeit PG rated, version of events that shaped the life of Barnum – through incredible storytelling, music and choreography. The soundtrack is the star of the show after Jackman. It’s contemporary, captivating and memorable – the showstopper (or starter, should we say) is the infectious opening of the same name as the film title. This sets the tone for the rest of the film – with its highs and lows mirrored throughout the film.
For the most part, the songs help aid the pace of the film but, as with many musicals, there are times when the song interrupts the flow of the film and takes away from the moment, as they seem forced into the scene.
The choreography is also second to none – creating fascinating spectacles that are a sensory delight. Choreographer, Ashley Warren, has excelled with The Greatest Showman, creating complex routines that include many key characters and extras that never leave you looking in the same spot twice. And while this film would not be classed as an ‘action’ there is certainly no lack of it.
Whether the accuracy of the story is in question, there is no disputing the way the story is told is exhilarating and breathtaking. Where La La Land was heralded for bringing Musical genre back to audiences, which gained it critical acclaim, The Greatest Showman demonstrates that the genre has a genuine place in filmmaking once more.
The Greatest Showman – In Cinemas Boxing Day