Thursday, 11 January 2018

Review: The Greatest Showman

by Daniel Hill

I have never reviewed a film, but after seeing The Greatest Showman I felt I could give it a go. It is based on the life story of Phineus Taylor Barnum who is possibly the founder of showmanship. It is directed by Michael Gracey and is his debut as a director. He is complemented with new music by Pasek and Paul who have recently come to fame since writing the music for the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen and lyrics in La La Land. The film stars Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Michelle Williams.

The cinematography is amazing, with visual effects that dazzle the audience. Michael Gracey cements his place in film direction with this stunning debut. The large scale musical numbers were paired with amazing choreography and energised the film. I was originally sceptical as the film opened with a huge performance of the song 'The Greatest Show'. I thought that this was possibly too ambitious due to the high standard and energy provided at the beginning of the film, possibly leaving no space for the film to grow. I was proved wrong as the film had perfect nuances and provided a brilliant viewing.

Pasek and Paul are two relatively unknown writers in the UK but prove to the British audience that we should be looking out for them in the future as they manage to write a great score to complement the story. Having to write music to a story which has previously been seen in some way on stage is hard, especially when the stage musical had music written by the legendary Cy Coleman. The film successfully steers away from this musical with a completely original score which keeps the movie going. The musical is juxtaposed with the period in which the film is set, which I think adds a slight modern twist on the man who arguably invented show business.

The cast is faultless. It is headed by Hugh  Jackman in the tile role who previously wowed audiences in Les Miserables as he proved he could sing. In this film he does it again with some music which is just as challenging as in his previous singing role. He plays Barnum with huge energy and presence which is perfect for this role. Zac Efron also plays a great part in the film as he comes back to his familiar ground of movie musicals. He plays Phillip Carlyle who becomes Barnum’s partner and Efron makes it clear as to why he was cast in this role. The partnership between Efron and Jackman is wonderful throughout the movie. Efron’s other partnership is more amazing as he begins to fly around the set with Zendaya as Anne Wheeler. Michelle Williams as Charity Barnum has some really heartfelt moments which include her song “Tightrope”. Keara Settle amazes audiences as she sings the song “This is Me” which has now won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song.

Obviously a film like this cannot be fully historically accurate and of course it is embellished heavily. For starters Phillip Carlyle is a fully fictional character who has been added to this film in order to enhance the plot. Personally, I think this is something that Barnum would have done in order to make it more ‘showy’ than it actually is. This is no way ruins the film, in fact it makes it grow.

As it has already started to break box office records, I know this film has a good future ahead of it. It has already been nominated for 3 golden globes which are Best Leading Actor in a Musical, Best Picture and Best Original Song. Although it only won the latter I believe it still has the chance of going on and doing well at the Oscars later this year. 

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