Les Misérables Movie Review
LES MISÉRABLES is being hailed as the grand musical experience you won’t want to miss! Unless of course you aren’t into musicals. Then more than likely you can’t be dragged there, regardless of your love for epic filmmaking. Musicals are the ultimate divider. Those who love the musical will find this to be the best movie of the year. Those who don’t will probably kick and scream loud enough to not even see it, making their loved one venture out alone. And if they do get dragged, will probably fall asleep halfway through. LES MISÉRABLES is a powerful film and about as great as you can possibly make a story of this caliber, but it probably won’t be bridging any taste gaps.
Taking place in France during the 19th-century, the drama follows Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) a prisoner who has skipped parole and is on a constant run from the ruthless law officer Javert (Russell Crowe). In his internal struggle between doing the right thing and vengeance upon his enemy, Valjean learns of his inadvertent demise of a mother fighting for her child’s survival. Valjean takes upon the child to raise and love her as his own, which continues a span of life altering events that involve spiritual, economical and love themes.
The story actually moves fairly quickly, spanning over several years. Tom Hooper follows up his Academy Award winning film THE KING’S SPEECH with a large scale musical adapted from Cameron Mackintosh’s version of Victor Hugo’s classic novel. The sets are a mighty spectacle that are blended well with computer graphics as the camera sweeps in and out of scenes. The technical merit is something to cherish with Hooper finding the perfect blocking and movement to keep the film flowing.
Hooper’s choice to film the performers singing live is the key that keeps the movie from falling into oblivion. Well, that and of course the performances themselves. Hugh Jackman leads the cast with heart and soul that can only be achieved with the raw emotion that comes from singing in the moment. The rest of the supporting cast including Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter and their fun rendition of “Master of the House” do a fine job. And the few child actors are phenomenal in their short screentime. But the big standout is Anne Hathaway as Fantine whose part is only about twenty minutes but impacts the story in a magnitude that will not be forgotten. I have no doubt, Hathaway will be walking away with a little golden guy named Oscar for her exquisitely emotional performance.
The critic in me appreciates the technical filmmaking, grand production and beautiful performances. However, while the music is moving initially, I couldn’t help but get tired of the same sounding songs blasting through the entire picture, stretching on longer than necessary. If you are not a fan of singing everything that’s in your head, LES MISÉRABLES is probably not for you. But if you are even on the fence a little, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by this passionate production. I happened to see a high school production of Les Mis several years ago that was terribly disappointing. I’m happy to say this version is far superior and LES MISÉRABLES is a solid film that which fans can be very proud.