Saturday 13 January 2018

The Greatest Showman ... Circus of life

ONE can see why Hugh Jackman had been hankering to play circus showman P.T. Barnum. Jackman's love of singing, which shone in Les Miserables, is embodied in director Michael Gracey's The Greatest Showman, released in December 2017.
  Jackson said he related to Barnum's rag-to-riches story, but he didn't say anything about Barnum's crass lies and scams to take advantage of the deformed to make money.
  However, I will confine my review to the film, which I enjoyed because of the pop songs set in a period piece.
   I will also say that the film is imbued with good values, among which is a destitute man's desire to make good and provide for his family things that he never had as a child.
  The film's start is vital as it  provides the motivation for Barnum to excel in life and come up with imaginative ideas.

   One scene has him and Charity, his future wife, dancing as kids in the compound of a dilapidated mansion. His idea of success then is having him buy and renovate the mansion and present it to her as a gift later on in life.
   His desire to achieve success sees him risking his family and fortune, but he's at pains to tell Charity that she does not understand his desire to achieve fame and fortune, because he wants his two daughters to have more than he ever did as a child.
Come on, come all, says P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman).
  Charity, meanwhile, is a curiosity because she gives up a palatial family life to take care of her husband and kids, which entails washing sheets on the rooftop of the flat. Which pretty rich blonde would ever do such a thing?
   The second positive value has a theatre critic telling Barnum that his collection of oddities is more like a celebration of humanity in all its colours, shapes and sizes. This will resonate with audiences as the film urges viewers to accept different people with open arms.
  The third positive value shows Barnum's business partner, Carlyle (Zac Efron), going out with the "help", black trapeze artist Anne Wheeler (biracial Zendaya). The film shows Carlyle's parents sneering at him for dating a black woman, but our studly hero goes against societal norms and follows his passion to date the woman of his dreams.
Anne (Zendaya) and Carlyle (Zac Efron) have a swinging
good time.
  Interracial romances hit a nerve because they urge us to look beyond the comforts of our racial group. The film can be seen as reproaching US President Donald Trump's racist and incendiary comments about minorities.
The final positive value is when bearded female singer Lettie Lutz (Keala Settle) belts out: "When the sharpest words wanna cut me down/ Gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out/ This is brave, this is bruised, this who I'm meant to be/ This is me."
   Lettie urges people like her to be strong and accept themselves for who they are and not be intimidated by society.

3 out of 5 stars


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