Directed by Michael Gracey, The Greatest Showman celebrates the birth of show business, inspired by the life of P.T.Barnum and the creation of the Barnum & Bailey Circus. The film tells the story of a visionary, Barnum (Hugh Jackman) who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation. Alongside his wife, Charity (Michelle Williams), and children, Barnum works with playwright Carlyle (Zac Efron) to bring together a cast of live stars, including a bearded lady (Keala Settle), a trapeze artist (Zendaya) and Tom Thumb (Sam Humphrey).
The Greatest Showman took the world by storm at the end of 2017. Whilst it didn’t get off to a great start, word of mouth meant that everybody was wanting to go and see this musical on the big screen by early 2018, many of those seeing it more than once and even participating in the Sing-A-Long special screenings. Soon enough, The Greatest Showman became a must-see phenomenon, making its way to become the fifth-highest grossing live-action musical of all time.
I’ve always been a fan of musicals and of the talent that is Hugh Jackman, so this was always a film that I was going to call a babysitter in for so that I could have a night out and enjoy it as soon as possible. Yet I didn’t quite expect to love this film as much as I did. Walking out of the cinema, however, it was obvious that everybody in the room had had an amazing experience.
Since going to see this film at the cinema, I have been listening to the soundtrack on repeat. I just love everything about it – the songs, the choreography, the heart-warming story. Mostly, I love the whole sentiment of it – “You don’t need everyone to love you, just a few good people.” It has some really lovely messages throughout it and I came away from watching it filled with such happiness, so much so that the soundtrack CD is the first piece of music that I have bought in nearly 10 years.
The casting of this film is perfect. Hugh Jackman is the only man for the job. I love that he can go from all singing and all dancing to one of the best superheroes around, without any question, and that he has such passion for these projects and puts everything that he has into his performance and into getting a film like this off the ground.
Michelle Williams has always been one of my favourite actresses, so to see her sing and dance is just beautiful to watch. Her ballroom dancing scenes with Jackman at the beginning are so moving that I could watch them forever. She is a real delight to watch and I hope that we get to see more roles from her like this one.
It was also such a great call to cast Zac Efron. I grew up in the era of his High School Musical days so I was beyond excited to see him return to what he’s best at. He’s had some very mediocre roles over the past few years so it’s great to see him on top form once again. His romance with Zendaya fills me with so much warmth, and their trapeze scene is one of my favourites from the whole film.
And, of course, I love the whole of the circus cast. The group performances are amazingly choreographed and make you want to join in so badly. And what a great opportunity this was for Keala Settle! She absolutely nails it and to see her emotion behind her performances of the stand-out “This Is Me” is amazing.
The only slight criticism I have about this film is that Rebecca Ferguson was cast in a role when she wasn’t able to perform the song. Because the rest of the cast performed their own songs, this felt a little out-of-place. She’s a great actress, and the Never Enough singer is beyond talented, too, but her character could have easily been cast by somebody who could both act and sing the part. That’s just how musicals should be, I think.
Nevertheless, The Greatest Showman is now my go-to feel-good film. It may be highly fictionalised but it is the perfect family film, and most definitely one that I am going to watch over and over again for many years to come.