Reviews

Les Miserables

4

The big-screen adaptation of the rousing stage musical

Known in luvvie circles as The Glums, Les Misérables has been seen by so many people since its 1985 London premiere it’s a marvel there’s anybody left to do so.

Well, Tom Hooper’s (The King’s Speech) epic movie version will send the devoted home happy and likely demonstrate to the few uninitiated what all the fuss is about.

For the latter, a quick catch-up. First published in 1862, Victor Hugo’s five-volume French door-stopper follows a paroled ex con, Jean Valjean, as he reinvents himself from petty thief to upright model citizen.

Yet try as he might he can’t seem to shake Inspector Javert, a dogged lawman who hounds him even as he becomes a wealthy mayor, surrogate father to an orphaned moppet and, eventually, reluctant participant in a Paris student uprising.

Boldly retaining the show’s sung-through format with vocals recorded live on set, Hooper opts for a gritty, authentic approach - at once intimate and epic - that generally eschews theatrical flourishes.

His leads respond in kind with unabashedly emotional, tear-sodden turns, Hugh Jackman projecting a wounded intensity as Jean Valjean and Anne Hathaway channelling her inner Susan Boyle as Fantine, the ill-used wench who sings ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ (a highlight, even escaping SuBo’s considerable shadow).

OK, so Russell Crowe keeps his upper lip stiff as Javert - no mean feat given the strangulated wheeze he assumes in the pic’s weakest bit of warbling.

For the most part, though, this is a gloriously immersive wallow in squalor and degradation, lightened intermittently by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as a pair of comically rapacious innkeepers, and lit up throughout by a sense of indomitable human spirit.

The biggest drawback is structural, with the second half less kinetic than the first, though Eddie Redmayne’s performance does much to energise his earnest intellectual’s wavering between Amanda Seyfried’s delicate Cosette and Samantha Barks’ earthy Éponine.

Without an interval to refresh, viewers might find themselves exhausted and emotionally drained. But things pick up in time for a musket vs cannon face-off on the barricades thrown up by Redmayne’s band of Arab Spring-mirroring rebels.

Come the wrenching, rousing finale, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.

Verdict:

Stirring and striking, Hooper’s epic musical won’t be wanting for awards and plaudits. Danny Cohen’s cinematography is stunning and Hathaway’s Oscar is guaranteed.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • martaoliveira

      Dec 15th 2012, 12:16

      Just can't wait to see this movie!

      Alert a moderator

    • bugmenot

      Dec 21st 2012, 8:00

      Its just awesome! Downloaded from moviesfirecom

      Alert a moderator

    • heatwave

      Jan 11th 2013, 22:16

      My review: I am a 36 yr old heterosexual male. I haven't cried that much since my budgie died when I was 9.

      Alert a moderator

    • thedanieljson

      Jan 12th 2013, 13:16

      A review as accurate as they come. Russel Crowe cannot sing fantastically, which is a shame as Javert's songs are amongst the best in the entire show, but he still does the character justice with his force, power, and surprising likability (he should've been included in the ending 'heaven' segment - he is not a bad man). The overall film is spectacular, and apart from the lagging moment in the middle, I was on the verge of tears (sometimes in floods of them) the entire way through. Oh, and 'I Dreamed a Dream' is the best scene I've seen in any film. Ever.

      Alert a moderator

    • Ali1748

      Jan 12th 2013, 19:01

      I stole a loaf of bread !!

      Alert a moderator

    • FBKTudor

      Jan 15th 2013, 23:11

      I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. It was fairly harsh. The characters were put through the mill. But I like Jean Valjean's redemptive arc. I'm not sure why Javert felt the need to (spoiler) end his story the way he does. Also, why do they have to sing practically every line of dialogue?That gets a bit much after a time. The performances were all very good. Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman really sold the emotional turmoil of their character's plights. The scale appeared a bit confused too, as the opening feels epic with a recreation of the docks with massive ships being drawn into the docksn later at the baracades, it has the look of a stage play and feels lik watching a theatre production. The introduction of Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonam Carter also feel more like a theatre production of Oliver! and you've got to pick a pocket or two. It was a good film, but adapting an already well adapted story isn't the most creative endeavour, whereas creating something new and original from scratch should be worthy of more recognition. Yet films like this are Oscar bait, and original sci-fi like Looper will always be shamelessly overlooked due to the snobbish nature of most Academy voters. Shame.

      Alert a moderator