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Opinion: Hugh Jackman’s full commitment makes The Greatest Showman more than just a glossy spectacle.
I always admire watching musicals and when Hugh Jackman starrer The Greatest Showman directed by Michael Gracey came out in the theaters as a new year celebration film I was the first one to run to the cinemas. Gracey tries to bring back the charm of good old school musical with this one and he is somewhat successful in giving us a glossy spectacle with foot tapping numbers and amazing feel good ambience to watch on screen. The Greatest Showman is a broad and solid crowd-pleaser. An undemanding spectacle for all the family, a joyously uplifting potpourii of visual resplendence, stylish choreography and solid gold magic, the production value is absolutely fantastic. But the problem with the film is that somehow it lacks the depth in the screenplay which is very very important when you are making a film on a famous public figure and achiever like P. T. Barnum, the man who was a great showman, circus artist, author, politician and publisher, because the director and the writers of the film has shown only the high notes of his life and avoided the controversies even the alleged love affair of Barnum and opera singer Jenny Lind is dealt in a broad brush manner. Maybe I was expecting more and the makers deliberately wanted to make an entertainer like the life of Barnum whose sole motive was to entertain people by hook or crook and that’s why they shied away from the low notes of Barnum’s life and that metaphor works in favor of the film because the 1 hour and 45 minutes runtime flies so fast.
The actors of the film are the boon, they made this highly attractive film even more appealing by their performances, though the characters of all the oddly unique star attractions of Barnum’s circus are hardly developed but Zendaya as Anne Wheeler, an acrobat, trapeze artist caught my attention yet again after her small role in Spiderman Homecoming and the subplot of her love story with Zac Efron as Phillip Carlyle, a playwright who becomes Barnum’s partner gives major weight to the film. Michelle Williams as Charity Barnum, the wife of P.T. Barnum is solid and her character gives a great hold to the film. Rebecca Ferguson as Jenny Lind, a famous Swedish opera singer is good and the songs in which she features are goosebumpy. But the film rests on the shoulder of Hugh Jackman as Barnum, his performance is I would say remarkable, not surprising that he won a nomination in the Golden Globes for this film in the best actor category. His dance moves are phenomenal, his intensity is accurate, actually his commitment made this movie more than just an entertainer. The direction scale of Gracey is grand but I wanted a little more in the screenplay department of Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon but overall it was a great cinematic experience. Full marks to the music of John Debney and John Trapanese because the songs are like live proportions in the film, like characters. The dialogues and lyrics are beyond superb, filled with so much of underneath substance and sometimes great on the face. All in all The Greatest Showman is a celebration of life, a lovely movie to end the year and begin a new one, watch it with your family. I am going with 3.5 stars out of five.