Come one, come all….’
The Greatest Showman is a whirlwind of colour and song and choreography so beautifully captured on film you can almost feel the lights and the glitter in the air. It’s joyful and electric. It’s the circus come to the screen in all its glory, with none of the melodrama that accompanies watching Water for Elephants. With songs by Broadway songwriting duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, previously of La La Land, the film has already been nominated for three Golden Globe Awards.
Hugh Jackman leads this vehicle, though other A-list names include Zac Efron and Zendaya, with Keala Settle stealing the show with a voice that could call the banners of war, and indeed ‘This is Me’ does feel like a beat-ridden battle song when it’s pounding through the speakers and the cast are marching down a street in 19th century America, costumed and defiant and proud.
A film like this, which to clarify is a biopic musical about the life of circus and showbiz master P.T Barnum, was a passion project for Hugh Jackman for many years and has received some criticism for the re-writing of history and its use of artistic license.
Fair criticisms quite possibly, but has any of these critics ever seen and enjoyed a musical. The recipe for most is quite simple. Act One: everything’s good, Act Two: everything goes to hell (or in the case of Les Mis: everyone dies, except for that one bloke). The Greatest Showman, while not so dramatic as all that, doesn’t deviate from the formula and to those who argue for brutal truth over a bit of glitz and glam, both certainly have their place but let us have a fun circus movie just this once. Let it be joyful. Let it be grand and mesmerising and maybe a little false. It’s enjoyable all the same.
So if you want a summer show, if in Hugh you trust as I do, if you want an album to jam to in the car for the rest of forever, if you want to go the circus, then ‘ladies and gents, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for.’
The Greatest Showman is my pick for you.
Review by MC Dunn