Genre: Drama, Musical | Run Time: 157 min | Rated: PG-13
Director: Tom Hooper | Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Eddie Redmayne
The hype surrounding the latest adaptation of Victor Hugo’s French novel has been building all year, and for good reason. This star studded film is the first adaptation of “Les Miserables” the stage musical, and arguably the best.
If you have not seen the play you should know that the entire film is sung. That right, there are no spoken words. It’s a bit difficult to get used to at first, but luckily it’s a three hour movie so you have plenty of time.
What makes this work is the live, realistic tone of their singing. Instead of the normal prerecorded perfect singing we’ve come to expect in filmed musicals “Les Miserables” takes a unique approach, everything was performed lived during the filming releasing the players from acting limitations. It also brings an emotion and realism to the play that is both beautiful and haunting.
Covering the entire adulthood of the the protagonist, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), we see the rise and fall of a powerful man. The movie opens on the release of Valjean from the gallies and follows him through temptation and redemption. The most powerful moments in the film come when Valjean fights for the women in his life, first with Fatine (Anne Hathaway) and then for her daughter Cosette. The women have the voices and Valjean has the heart to make this story work.
The entire cast is phenomenal, but Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway are the most in their element portraying these tormented characters.The strongest moment in the film comes after Fatine’s fall from grace when she delivers a powerful performance of “I Dreamed a Dream.” Shot as one tight closeup, the entire song relies on Hathaway’s ability, and she delivers.
Abandoning the pretty and composed route she dives into the agony of the scene and sets the tone for the rest of the movie. If you’re a movie theater crier, make sure to bring some tissues.
Russell Crowe does his best to keep up with the rest of the cast as the villainous Javert. As the comparative theater novice he is the film’s weakest link, but that’s not saying much. All around the casting is inspiring, especially Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the vicious inn keepers, the Thenardiers. These two were born for these parts, bringing skill and quirk along with some much needed comic relief.
“Les Miserables” is a fantastic film to see in theaters. See it before the Oscars this spring because it’s going to be a powerhouse.