WION New Delhi, Delhi, India
Dec 29, 2017, 08.39 AM
Hugh Jackman was born for the stage. Long before he became popular as Wolverine, Grant, in various films and stage shows showcased his impeccable talent at singing, acting and dance. After the success of Wolverine, the man got a new image makeover - which stuck with him for years to come. And while we love him as the angsty mutant, we can't help but miss the showman that Jackman is inherently.
The actor had a good year in 2017 with Logan lapping up both critical as well as commercial success. And Jackman ends the year literary with a bang as he comes back to his original love. Filmmaker Michael Gracey's film The Greatest Showman traces the rise and fall and rise of P. T. Barnum-an American showman and businessman who changed the way America perceived theatre and stage artists. But while the film is about Barnum's life, it gives Jackman ample scope to showcase his talent as a singer-dancer-actor.
Born to a poor tailor and orphaned at an early age, Burnum does odd jobs for a living. His only companion, Charity is his former employer's daughter and far away in a finishing school. The two develop feelings for each other over the years and eventually marry and settle down. When the company where Burnum works is declared bankrupt, he manages to convince a bank to offer him a loan to set up Barnum's American Museum in downtown Manhattan, an attraction showcasing various wax models of subjects of interest. As the doors open to the public, most shun it for its oddities. Initially, sales are slow and it's only when his daughters suggest him to showcase something alive, he endeavors to search for various ‘freaks’ (people with various physical abnormalities or extraordinary abilities) to serve as performers for his museum.
While critics pan it and high society scoff at it, it becomes an instant hit with people flocking his museum to watch 'the circus of freaks'. While Brunum earns enough money to afford comforts and luxuries for his family, he craves to rise up socially and be accepted. He then collaborates with theater star Phillip Carlyle who in turn opens up Burnum to the world of royalty and introduces him Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind who agrees to come to America and perform for Burnum.
The story then traces how Burnum rises in power and in turn lose out on some of his old friends and associates and how he eventually returns back to his roots and starts afresh.
While the story is somewhat known and predictable, it is the foot tapping music by John Debney, John Trapanese that keeps one engaged throughout the films two-hour runtime. From the opening act, 'Come Alive' which shows the grand show that Burnum has put together to the dreamy, aspirational 'Million Dreams' that narrates a young Burnum and Charity's dreams to the romantic 'Rewrite Stars' that features Zendaya and Efron - the songs stay with you much after the film finishes.
Zav Efron in a still from The Greatest Showman (Others)
Gracey creates a 19th century America beautifully but the songs are infused with modernity. The camera work by Seamus McGarvey has rapid shots, the choreography is very contemporary, yet the film manages to entertain you. Perhaps Gracey wanted to make it more relatable to the young audience and the musical infuses a lot of modernity in the way the story is told.
While there are formidable performances by Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Rebecca Ferguson, and Zendaya, the film ultimately isJackman's show. Illness and age notwithstanding, Jackman still has the charm and brings his best to the table, as always making The Greatest Showman a perfect watch for this holiday season. It won't overwhelm you, but you will surely be tapping your foot to the songs and marveling at the amazing Jackman.
One sequence as Jackman and Efron performing together. I think that should be a good enough reason to watch the film.