Wednesday, 3 January 2018
Greatest Showman (5 Stars)
One thing I've found over the years is that it's easier for me to write about films that I don't like than films that I like. I have no problems in making a list of a film's faults. On the other hand, when I love a film I get writer's block. This evening I've sat staring at the screen for at least 20 minutes, not knowing where to start.
I went to the cinema this evening expecting something good. That's the same feeling I had when I went to see "La La Land" 12 months ago. As soon as Hugh Jackman opened his mouth and began to sing I was amazed. That's how I felt after the first musical number of "La La Land". That's where the similarities stopped. "La La Land" slumped after the first 15 minutes and never got its magic back. "Greatest Showman" succeeds where "La La Land" failed.
I was amazed at how good Hugh Jackman can sing. I never expected it from him. Zac Efron is also an amazing singer and dancer, but I knew that already. He was probably the best dancer in the film. Michelle Williams has a weak voice, but it was good enough for the film. Rebecca Ferguson amazed me with her singing talent. How has she managed to keep it secret all these years? As well as that, many of the performers that I'd never seen before, young and old, are excellent singers.
The film is about the life of Phineas Taylor Barnum, from his impoverished youth to the creation of the world's largest circus. He began his business as a freak show, but slowly added animals and athletic performers to become a fully fledged circus.
It's a powerful emotional story. I felt my eyes moistening on two occasions.
A lot of the criticism raised against the film is the lack of historical accuracy. This piqued my curiosity, so I spent some time reading about P. T. Barnum. None of what I read contradicts the film, but his life has been simplified. He did many more things than were shown in the film, but to include them all would have added hours to the film. He had four daughters, not two, but that doesn't disturb me. Maybe situations were dramatised, such as the first meeting with his parents-in-law after his marriage, but that's usual in true stories.
This is a wonderful film, and I can't find any valid criticisms to make me think otherwise. I strongly recommend it to all my readers.