Film review – Les Misérables (2012)

les miserables 1

Film: Les Misérables
Released: 2012
Director: Tom Hooper
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks

In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s daughter, Cosette. The fateful decision changes their lives forever. Based on the book of the same name by Victor Hugo, and the ever-popular stage musical.

What I thought of it:
Take a bunch of big-name actors (most of whom are not particularly known for singing), and put them into one of the best-loved musicals in the world, and what do you get? Well, you get a surprise, for one thing, because it turns out they’re all pretty decent singers, for a start!

Jackman has a history in stage musicals, so we knew he was going to be fine; Crowe has actually had experience with music too, most famously with the band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts; Bonham Carter appeared in the musical film of Sweeney Todd with Johnny Dep a few years back and proved she could hold her own; and Hathaway’s mother played the role of Fantine in the stage version, so it was a pleasant revelation to find that she can actually sing very well. So, straight away, we have a good, solid set of vocals to carry us through, but what is really great is how brilliantly they perform in the roles.

The entire cast really show fabulous range and ability, not only as singers, but as the actors we already know them to be. One of the highlights is actually the interplay between Bonham Carter and Baron Cohen as Monsieur and Madame Thénardier. They turn is wickedly comical performances and their chemistry is hilarious.

Of course, we all know the story well – convict breaks parole, policeman vows to hunt him down, convict comes good, convict helps woman in dire situation, convict takes on child of woman, blah, blah, blah, French Revolution, everybody dies. It’s depressing stuff, but it’s remarkably compelling, and with such a cast as this, turning in stellar performances, one can almost take joy in their portrayal of their misery.

Fans of the stage show will love it, and it is sure to introduce the musical to a new legion of fans, which can only be a good thing.

Rating: Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven
Nominated for 8 Oscars:

  • Best Motion Picture
  • Best Actor (Hugh Jackman)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Anne Hathaway)
  • Best Original Song (Suddenly)
  • Best Production Design
  • Best Costume
  • Best Makeup and Hair Styling
  • Best Sound Mixing

Hathaway is excellent, but I don’t think the role of Fantine has enough screen time (approximately 15 minutes total) to warrant the supporting actress nomination. Its bound to win something, but I’m not sure what. Who knows, perhaps Hathaway will walk away with the statue after all, but I suspect the costume prize may go their way too…

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