THE GREATEST SHOWMAN is a cheesy obvious heart-on-its-sleeve film that shouldn't work but doesn't. It's as if it were cynically designed to capture the feel-good empowerment of FROZEN's "Let It Go" and does so with its relentlessly politically correct casting and story and a parade of empowering catchy tunes. That the product has been carefully honed does not detract from its effectiveness. I for one was utterly wrapped up in the two love stories at the heart of the film - and the idea that true love, entrepreneurial skill and a lack of prejudice will ultimately triumph.
That the film works owes much to the on-screen charisma of Hugh Jackman, in the lead role of PT Barnum - the man who invented the modern circus and freak show. What's amazing about this story is that it manages to turn something quite exploitative into an act of liberation. Poor Michelle Williams has less to do as his faithful suffering wife. Indeed, it's Rebecca Ferguson as real life famous opera singer Jenny Lind who has the most powerful moment as the woman hopelessly in love with a married man. And then for the younger demographic we have teen heartthrob Zac Efron and the multi-talented Zendaya as a mixed race couple.
Kudos to first time director Michael Gracey for giving this film such energy and joie-de-vivre - to long time Christopher Nolan collaborator, production designer Nathan Crowley for giving the film such a beautiful, fantastical and romantic look. He gives the tired faded concept of the circus real glamour. But most of all kudos to the composers Joseph Trapanese and John Debney for producing genuinely catchy and uplifting songs. This is truly a warm-hearted, wonderful film!
THE GREATEST SHOWMAN has a running time of 105 minutes and is rated PG. It is on global release.