Movie Review: Les Miserables

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Running time: 158 mins
Director: Tom Hooper
Release date: 11 January 2013
Genre: Musical, Drama
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne

Adapted from a musical based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, the film version of Les Miserables is set in 19th century France. Following 19 years in prison for merely stealing a loaf of bread, Jean Valjean (Jackman) momentarily experiences freedom before being hunted by policeman Javert (Crowe) for breaking parole. Valjean ends up on a mission to redeem himself and his goodness, and risks the new life he has built for himself to care for dying factory worker Fantine’s (Hathaway) young daughter Cosette (older Cosette played by Seyfried).

This movie is already garnerning  numerous awards and nominations, and it’s easy to see why. Comparable to seeing Les Mis as a musical, you really notice being right in the actors’ faces. Hooper tends to stay in tight – even tighter than your average closeup – with anyone singing; especially if they’re singing solo. This somehow makes it more raw and you feel the emotions – and see the dirt, blood, sweat and tears – that much more because of it.

Standout performances from Hathaway and Jackman front a very well cast film. Hathaway’s gutsy voice (who would have thought?!) and heartbreaking, melancholic, raw rendition of I Dreamed A Dream could very well see her scoring the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress which she has been nominated for. Jackman’s also had a nomination nod for Best Actor for the depth he brings to Valjean.

A number of critics have slated Crowe’s performance, however, his version is quite true to portrayals of Javert in other renditions of Les Mis when it comes to his acting and vocal abilities, and this reviewer at least does feel he manages to hold his own in the role.

For those who are fans of the musical, you will hear the majority of all your favourite songs plus a new track written just for the movie called Suddenly which is sung by Valjean.

Others to watch out for are Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter in the roles of unscrupulous innkeeper owners Monsieur and Madame Thénardier and their daughter Eponine (played by a relatively unknown but fantastic talent, Samantha Barks). A word of warning; the plot does contain a fair few grim situations, grubbiness, prostitutes, killed dreams, and a lot of death. However, there is also love, passion and redemption to keep you in good spirits along the way… Not for the faint hearted!

If you can’t stand musicals, perhaps stay clear of Les Miserables, otherwise get yourself to the cinema quickly and check it out! A must-see on the big screen.

Image / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – Idea go

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