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The latest in a very long line of musicals and film adaptations, this Best Picture nominee by director Tom Hooper was released at the beginning of this year, and in just a few short weeks earned a more than decent sum at the box office. A faithful adaptation of the 1980's musical, which itself was based on the 1862 French novel by Victor Hugo, the sung-through style of the picture, which has virtually every line of dialogue being sung by the actors can honestly be distracting at times. The music and performances are so enthralling, you forget you're supposed to be paying attention to the exposition within the lyrics.
With all of the A-list cast commendably singing live, Hooper's decision to film many of the movie's most delicate moments with non-steady cam handheld was jarring at times. Especially so, when juxtaposed to the rest of the otherwise deliberate and conventional filming style: the dimly let Paris backdrop gloriously photographed in every scene. The plot of this 158-minute musical drama follows Hugh Jackman as a paroled prisoner who decides to care for the wayward daughter of a troubled factory worker, played by Anne Hathaway who has been reduced to a life of prostitution, all while Russell Crowe, a ruthless Parisian policeman attempts to track them down.
Undergoing impressive make-up changes to make his character age 16-years over the course of the film, Jackman's leading performance is remarkably relatable and an engrossing one: audiences should have no issue rooting for his award winning performance. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter are briefly featured as scheming housekeepers, their delightfully fun duet, "Master Of The House", infuses this rather somber British musical with some much needed comic relief. Eddie Redmayne and Amanda Seyfried contribute a lackluster love-story later in the film, but even their above-average singing wasn't enough to truly sell their passion for each other. Despite her limited screentime, Hathaway's performance is a brilliant show-stopper, her goosebump-educing singing soliloquy of the musical's most famous number, "I Dreamed A Dream" is as amazing beautiful as it is emotional resonant. In that intensely intimate, uncut three-minute close-up, she single-handily made audiences everywhere cry, while simultaneously winning herself an eventual Oscar, frustratingly belting out, "I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I'm living!"
But with two hours left after this incredibly memorable scene occurs, the picture never quite returns to the powerfully moving experience: falling back on unlayered stereotypes, and relationships between characters that lack much importance. Throughout it all, Crowe continues his fugitive purist, but eventually his character seems desperate and clueless, with his singing curiously falling flat in a few scenes. The introduction of an almost completely new plot halfway through the picture was bothersome as well, but the visuals, costumes, and set-design are all breathtaking: for all intents and purposes, this movie was filmed in 19th century France, even if it all but glosses over the importance or historical context of the Paris Uprising Of 1832.
Considering this entire overly long picture is nothing but singing, I was surprised that so few of the number were catchy or memorable... but rather a commendably performed means to an end. Fans of the original musical and soundtrack will no doubt love this picture, but as it was only truly incredible in a few scenes, it ultimately left me wanting more.
As you probably guessed, I'm not a huge musical person, but of the few I've seen, this is easily the strongest. You remove Anne's amazing performance though, and this picture is maybe a six out of 10. As is though, I enjoyed this picture, despite its flaws: I thought it was GREAT.
This film is so powerful that as the end credits roll you are left feeling like a wrung out dishcloth. It recreates the story of 19th Century France and the main character Jean Valjean, newly released from prison. He breaks parole to create a new life for himself but his nemesis, Police Inspector Javert is never far from his trail. He encounters a young mother, Fantine, brought to the edge of despair after losing her job and turning to prostitution to pay the Innkeeper for her daughter, Cosette's care. Valjean's life is changed forever when he vows to take care of the child, following her mother's death. What follows is a battle between Valjean and Javert's dogged mission to send him back to prison, a heart wrenching love story for Cosette and the uprising of the French people as they man the barricades and fight for freedom from oppression. The atmosphere, the music and the stellar performances make this a stand out movie for all the right reasons. It makes you laugh and my word how it makes you cry. I defy even the hardest heart not to crumble at some of the sublime acting from Hugh Jackman as Valjean and Anne Hathaway as Fantine. It seems to me a complete travesty that Les Mis failed to collect a plethora of Oscars but nevertheless this film will stand the test of time and be defined as a classic. The actors all step up to the challenging mark in this epic production and display full commitment to bringing this amazing story to the big screen. The story moves along at a good pace and holds your interest throughout. I have heard it said in some quarters that Russell Crowe was miscast but I totally disagree with this view and have nothing but praise for his strong portrayal of Javert. I would recommend this DVD version to anyone especially for those who prefer to shed tears in the comfort of their own home.
Les Mis is a beautiful story about various connections and classes of 19th century France. The original French text consists of 48 books, so it's very difficult to place the entire story within a three hour film.
But of all the various film interpretations this has to be one of the best attempts to summarise the classic that i've seen. It focusses on the journey of the convict Jean val Jean (Jackman) from being hated by the world and in turn hating the world, to being respected and loved by the world when he becomes Monsieur du Mayor, and Papa to Cosette (Seyfried,) the daughter of the deceased poor soul Fantine (Hathaway) who had to resort to prostitution to meet the constant monetary demands of the couple she had left Cosette in the care of. Jean val Jean is constantly pursued by Javert (Crowe) who goes on a moral journey, but cannot handle the fact that Jean val Jean has changed his view on the law and his morals, and commits suicide.
Of course this is a musical rendition, where every line is sung. Personally i thought this was a nice touch, although you could tell Jackman and Crowe were struggling a little bit with a few of the higher notes. Hathaway's presentation of 'I Dreamed a Dream' literally made the the cinema screening we were in, previously full of cinema-type sounds, absolutely silent with awe. it was beautiful. Seeing Helen Bonham-Carter sing 'Master of the House' also added to the film's brilliance. The directors knew what they were doing when they cast this film.
Of all the visual effects, i have to say the ship at the beginning was very impressive, upon research, i found out that the producers had shipped in tonnes and tonnes of seaweed to actually make the entire set feel like they were pulling this set in. The use of costumes, particularly in Jean val Jean's character, is used very effectively, not only to show the time and setting of the film, but though show the character's mental state as it were. For example Javert wears blue throughout most of the film, but when he has his moral conflict he is wearing black, quite often associated with mourning and death. Similarly, Fantine starts off as wearing blue and pink- quite nice, settled colours, but as she delves deep into despair is wearing darker clothing, until she is taken in by val Jean, where she is placed in whites and creams, in order to show her innocence and helplessness in her illness. Costumes are a big factor in this film.
One thing i do know about acting is that it's very difficult to pull off good naturalistic acting when you have to sing everything- it's almost as if you naturally want to do big wavy movements like you find in operas instead of acting as though you were talking to the person next to you. One of the great aspects of this film is that the actors do manage to pull off the naturalistic acting when needs be, but still has appropriate big wavy moments. There are a few little slips here and there, particularly from Jackman, but otherwise a very successful round of acting from all the cast.
If i had one little niggle about this film, it would be the unnecessary 'crack' that accompanies Javert's death. I know this is a very sound-effect-prominent film, but there was no need for the sickening 'crack,' Javert's death was drawn out and effective enough as it was.
All in all a very emotional and thought provoking musical with a well known all-star cast, to which i guarantee more than one person will finish watching the film and realise they've been watching Wolverine sing for three hours. Although i do feel this interpretation had too much Russel Crowe and not enough Anne Hathaway.
This film of the famous musical had big (nineteenth century)boots to fill, and many felt Director Tom Hooper would not succeed; well, they were wrong.
Les Miserables the movie is an absolute triumph in all areas - superb direction, perfect casting, great music, and stunning cinematography giving it a real epic feel. The seemingly daunting 2 1/2 hours running time flew past for me. The songs are fantastic, a great mix of ballads (I Dreamed A Dream, On My Own), humour (Lovely Ladies, Master of the House), and rousing choruses ( One Day More, Do You Hear The People Sing).
The film is (obviously) based on the long running musical Les Miserables, which in turn is based on the epic novel Les Miserables by Victor Hugo; the musical and film tell the main story of the long, and tragic, relationship/rivalry between two men, ex-convict Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) and policeman Javert (Russell Crowe), both equal measure hero and villain, across many years, and against the backdrop of great political and social upheaval in France. Anne Hathaway is outstanding as the tragic Fantine, and her show-stopping 'I Dreamed a Dream' is stunning; Hugh Jackman is amazing as Jean Valjean (never knew he could sing so well), and even Russell Crowe, imposing as ever, does well as Javert.
Their performances have to carry the main part of the film, and they do, but the support from Eddie Redmayne (Marius), Amanda Seyfried (Cosette),Sacha Baron Cohen (Thénardier), Helena Bonham Carter (Madame Thenardier) is just as good. Sacha Baron Cohen and Bonham Carter steal every scene they are in, and their 'Master of
the House' set-piece is classic. I was also impressed with Eddie Redmayne as Marius, but less so with Amanda Seyfried, who's singing I felt was a little weak.
I can honestly say I enjoyed every aspect of the film, but probably the best thing was that not only did they include nearly every song from the musical (only 2 were left out, though some were shortened for running time reasons), all the actors sang 'as live', no recording afterwards, dubbing etc. The songs you hear are the real actors singing in one take, to a piano playing in a hidden earpiece,which makes some of the performances incredible. Even the singing of Russell Crowe, sneered at in some quarters, was decent enough, the only real struggle coming with his solo songs, which are very tough for any singer.
What struck me the most was that, after a few minutes into the film, you tune out the fact that they are always singing, and just start to enjoy a good, if a tad melodramatic, story and good performances. The songs are just such a natural part of the film.
Speaking as a man who loves action,sci-fi and horror films mostly, this film brought a tear to my eye several times. If the final Hugh Jackman scene doesn't bring a lump to the throat you must have a heart of stone....It is every bit as good as the stage show.
I can't give a better recommendation than that.
I watched Les Miserabes, not knowing fully what to expect. I did not know the story line, although I had heard songs from the stage musical.
I have to say I sat mesmerised and fully entertained throughout. The film lasted over 2 ½ hours long but it was a sheer musical masterpiece.
The film has very little in the way of spoken words as it composes nearly all music and singing.
The cast is led by Hugh Jackman who plays the main character Jean Valjean that appears to endure endless adversity from various events that occur during his life. Russell Crowe plays the French general who is relentless in chasing after (Jean) to arrest him for his sins.
I thought that Russell Crowe was impressive in his acting role but not so much so, in his singing role. Nevertheless, let it not distract you from the amazing musical performances from other cast members.
Of course the music of this film is the major part and all the songs will be completely memorable to anyone that loves Les Miserables. The music score never disappoints.
I really enjoyed the performance scene led by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as likable rogues; they are a treat and bring some light hearted humour to the many otherwise grim moments.
My favourites include an outstanding rendition of 'I dream a dream' sung by Ann Hathaway, whose gritty performance will be sure to have you reaching for the tissues.
I felt this was an outstanding musical, that tries to bring some of French history to life.
It has a large cast of talented actors and singers; whose poignant roles you will remember long after the film has ended.
The BFI IMAX is a strange and wonderful place. Boasting its "biggest screen in the UK," it lives up to its reputation in giving you a blistering headache should you sit too far forward, or a set of splittingly painful eardrums should you sit too close to the sides where the massive speakers are located. So the lesson here is this: sit as far back as possible - you'll still see everything. The screen is really that big. And of course, centre seats are recommended. As soon as the adverts go full-size, you almost feel the words and numbers come out towards the audience. There is hardly any need for a 3D conversion it seems, as everything feels so close and awe-inspiring in the first place. Adding an extra dimension and an extra pair of glasses would almost certainly have everyone crawling to their exits.
A certain level of hilarity also ensues with a film like Tom Hooper's latest, Les Misérables, a film adaptation of the worldwide smash-hit musical that's been going strong ever since its debut in 1986. During his many, many musical sequences, especially ones involving solos with his actors, Hooper is a big fan of taking their close-ups, and using as few takes as possible, focusing solely on their faces. On the IMAX screen, the actors are placed under a microscope. Ever wondered how many freckles Eddie Redmayne has on his face? Or how about the number of wrinkles on Hugh Jackman's face? Or perhaps the skin tone of Anne Hathaway's? All becomes (far too) clear. It's not exactly a distraction by any means, but an observation that cannot go unnoticed.
That Hooper doesn't hold a thing back further benefits from the IMAX treatment. As prisoners in 1815 France are forced into physical labour, there are waves crashing in around them, along with the thunderous opening orchestral score, a mix that generates nothing but excitement for what lays ahead. Here is where we meet Jean Valjean (Jackman) a thief who stole a loaf of bread - a crime for which he's served 19 years - 5 for the stealing, the rest for his numerous failed escapes. He is finally released on parole, with Inspector Javert (Crowe) reminding him of his condition and status. Valjean has forever been marked as a convict, and will remain as such for as long as he lives.
But Valjean decides to reinvent himself, with some very touching help from a kind-hearted priest (Colm Wilkinson in his mighty fine cameo), breaking his parole, and disappearing, creating a new identity for himself. The time fast-forwards eight years, and he's now a well-off mayor and factory owner, under an alias. It is here he encounters Fantine (Anne Hathaway), a hard-working single mother forced into prostitution to provide for her illegitimate daughter. Promising the dying mother to take care of her vulnerable child Cosette (the pitch perfect Isabelle Allen), Valjean is once again forced to go on the run once the persistent Javert finally catches up with him.
We get another time-jump: this one of nine years. Fantine's daughter Cosette has grown up now (to Seyfried), and becomes the subject of passionate desire for Marius (Redmayne), an idealistic student revolutionary planning a dangerous demonstration on the streets of Paris. He too, is the subject of desire for Eponine (Barks).
It has a lot to juggle: plenty of meaty characters and decades of events and themes all expressed through music and the film's most unique element, the live-singing of its cast, works massively to its benefit. For the sharply tuned musicians amongst the audience, a certain bum notes will most certainly be evident, most likely from a certain Aussie Gladiator whose smooth voice is more suited for singing the blues rather than an intense solo ('Stars'). And it may be a little awkward at times to hear verbal dialogue given a musical treatment.
But oh the power and emotion it adds to the narrative is quite simply unmatchable to anything we have ever seen. Take Hathaway's solo, for example. Forget about Susan Boyle and how she blew away everyone during her talent audition. Here, Fantine is abruised and beaten woman, having reached the lowest of the low, singing her guts out in Hathaway's heart-wrenchingly beautiful rendition of 'I Dreamed a Dream'. You may not like the song - but seeing Hathaway (a lock for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar) carry the song throughout a single, intimate close-up shot is a hauntingly memorable scene.
The closest thing we get to a love triangle is also interestingly explored here; with Seyfried proving she can sing a lot more than her ABBA repertoire, comfortably reaching those top notes in her many duets and trios, Redmayne has an incredible voice to show off, and once you can look past how the actor shakes his face intensely whenever he's trying to hold on to a note (unintentionally hilarious, this), be blown away as he performs 'Empty Chairs and Empty Tables'. Barks, who had previously played the same role on stage before, is also excellent in her film debut, and her big moment comes in 'On My Own' in which she despairs over her secret crush on Marius.
Jackman, previously trained in the musical theatre, takes on his two challenging solos ('Who Am I' and 'Bring Him Home') with gusto and utmost intensity for his character - he has fight left in him even when the universe seems to be against him, he has compassion for the poor, he has mercy, he has grief, he has guilt, and Jackman, in a single performance, sweepingly embodies all of these characteristics, most impressively even whilst he's singing a set of difficult tunes.
And of course, the revolution - you know these students don't stand a chance against the well-orgainsed military, but there is something stirring about their cause their firm beliefs. As they sing their hearts out with 'Red and Black' and 'Do You Hear the People Sing?' the battlelines are drawn, and subsequent violence ensues, ending in shocking tragedy. The scale remains relatively small, staying true to the stage adaptation, and feels more intimate because of it.
Without an intermission to wipe your tears away, bounce back from all the depressing drama, the 157-minute running time can be a challenge to sit through. But thank heavens for the Thenadiers (Cohen, Carter), the evil, conning innkeepers who act as "guardians" to little Cosette. Cohen and Carter are there for the comedic purposes only, and it's sure a welcome addition. Their intermittent appearances add some priceless moments where we can forget about all the injustices in the world, and have a laugh as this outrageous couple go about their business singing 'Master of the House'. Cohen and Carter do what they normally do best, providing plenty of wacky comic relief into a plot that really needs it.
There won't be a dry pair of eyes in the house by the time we get to hear the rousing finale, as a magnificent musical comes to a close, one with a unique approach that will be remembered for years to come. Bravo Tom Hooper, for thinking that live-singing would be a good idea, and a special round of applause to everyone in the cast for making it work. As everyone comes together to sing the biggest song of the musical, 'One Day More', there isn't a better representation of what excellent teamwork can really achieve.
As a young girl I listened to the soundtrack from the West End musical at my grandparents house (they had been to see the live version) and I fell in love with the characters and the songs.
I am not a huge fan of musicals but there is something special about Les Miserables.
Tom Hooper's direction and the cinematography, costumes, art design and editing are genius.
Set in 19th century France. Convict Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is released on parole by prison guard Javert (Russell Crowe) after serving a nineteen year sentence. Being an ex convict he struggles to find work or shelter.
He is taken in by the Bishop (Colm Wilkinson), but after stealing the church's silver in the night, is caught and returned by the authorities.The Bishop lies that the silver was given to Jean Valjean as a gift to save Valjean from further sentencing. Touched by the Bishop's actions, Valjean makes a vow to God to become an honest man. He breaks his parole and assumes a new identity to start a new life.
We next see Valjean eight years later, a factory owner and Mayor of Montreuil-sur-mer. Fantine,(Anne Hathaway) is one of his workers, but following an argument with other factory women after they discover that she has an illegitimate daughter, Cosette (Isabelle Allen) whom she sends her wages to, she is fired by the lecherous Foreman.
Fantine still has to find ways to make money to send for the upkeep of Cosette, who lives with an Inkeeper, (Sacha Baron Cohen) his wife (Helena Bonham Carter) and their daughter Eponine (Natalya Angel Wallace) so after selling her hair and two teeth, she has no alternative but to start selling her body and becomes a "lovely lady."
During a violent argument with an abusive client, Fantine lashes out and the Police Inspector, Javert arrives to arrest her. Valjean is at the scene and after hearing her story and realises he could have saved her from this life by not allowing his Foreman to sack her, decides to intervene and takes the sick Fantine to hospital.
He makes a promise to Fantine on her deathbed that he will find Cosette and care for her as if she were his own.
Valjean learns that Javert has wrongly arrested a man he believes is him. After wrestling with his conscience, he decides he cannot condemn an innocent man. He reveals his true identity and leaves to find Cosette, with Javert hot on his trail.
He finds Cosette and pays the Innkeeper and his wife to allow her to leave with him.
Nine years on students Marius,(Eddie Redmayne) and Enjolras (Aaron Tveit) discuss revolution, they are joined by young street urchin Gavroche. (Daniel Huttlestone)
Marius catches his first glimpse of Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) and falls head over heels in love with her. Marius enlists the help of his friend Eponine (Samantha Barks) to find Cosette. After realising her secret love for Marius will never be reciprocated, eponine decides to disguise herself as a male and join the revolution.
During the gunfight at the students barricade, Eponine saves Marius from a fatal shot, by taking the bullet herself.
She confesses her love for him as she lays dying in his arms.
Meanwhile Valjean has intercepted a letter from Marius to Cosette and goes to the barricades to ensure Marius is returned safely. Whilst there Valjean has the chance to execute his sworn enemy Javert, but instead chooses to free him.
The students vowed to fight to the death during their revolution and everyone is killed apart from Marius, who is saved by Valjean carrying his unconscious body through the sewers. Valjean is confronted by Javert at the sewer exit. Javert wrestles with his civil and moral duties and decides he cannot take Valjean's life after he showed him mercy and so he takes his own life!
After Cosette and Marius are reunited and swear to spend their lives together, Valjean reveals the truth about his past to Marius and tells him he must leave to protect Cosette and that Marius must tell her he has had to go away. Cosette is heartbroken.
On their wedding day, events unfold so that Marius learns it was Valjean that saved his life that night by carrying him home through the sewers. He and Cosette learn his location and rush to find him.
In a local convent we find Valjean, dying. Cosette manages to get there in time to say goodbye and Valjean hands her a letter containing his confession of his past life.
The film closes with Valjean's spirit being guided by that of Fantine to the Bishop where he joins the other cast members killed in the Revolution.
A very moving, extremely powerful film that will touch your heart. Excellent acting and some brilliant vocal performances.
My favourite songs: Fantine -"I dreamed a dream"
The students - "Red and Black"
Eponine - "On my own"
Jean Valjean - " Bring him home"
I just went to see Tom Hooper's musical Les Miserables and was blown away- nominated for 8 Oscars, 9 BAFTAS and winner of three Golden Globes- this is definitely a MUST SEE MOVIE.
When I was a young boy, I was taken to see the West End musical but given the seats we had and my lack of attention, I did not get the story and found it rather boring... then having seen the 1998 film version which I surprisingly liked, lit a spark of excitement for the moving tale of faith, grace and love.
Les Miserables tells of a criminal Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) who is on parole and after having no place to stay, is accepted into a church by a bishop, who feeds him and gives him a place to sleep. Tempted by a set of silverware, he steals it and runs away in the night. After being caught and brought back to the bishop, Jean Valjean is shown grace and mercy- the bishop declares that he has given him the silverware and sets him free. Moved by such an act of compassion, Valjean turns his life around and becomes mayor of Montriuel and a factory owner.
Fantine (Anne Hathaway), one of the factory workers is cast out and unjustly loses her job after being discovered of having a child out of wedlock. Unable to pay for her daughter Cosette, she resorts to selling her hair and prostitution. Walking by after an incident, Jean Valjean recognises Fantine and rescues her from her predicament. On her deathbed, he promises to look after her daughter Cosette.
Police Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) has been looking for Jean Valjean ever since he skipped parole and meets him again in Montreuil, giving chase wherever he goes. With Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) in his care, Jean Valjean must do everything he can to protect her whilst avoiding capture, always on the run, but when Cosette meets Marius (Eddie Redmayne), his plans are thrown and he risks everything for her happiness.
At over two and a half hours long, the movie is extremely packed. The multi-layered and complex plot-line is well paced, but a bit slow at times, but is uplifted by musical moments and surprisingly hilarious scenes.
Tom Hooper's 2012 musical film takes a brave step in filming the stars sing the songs live instead of the traditional way of recording in a studio and then miming along whilst acting. This brings a genuine emotion into the actors' performance and that is clearly seen, most notably in Anne Hathaway's spectacular performance of 'I dreamed a dream' which was highly emotional (here comes the Oscar)!
Musically, all the songs from the stage production were included but altered, rearranged etc. It also features new song 'Suddenly' (also nominated for an Oscar) which was seamlessly added.
A majority of the cast held their own in the musical performances, with the live recordings making it a lot more raw and real- sacrificing some musical accuracy and smoothness, but adds to the emotional captivation of the audience.
The set was also beautifully done with a wonderful grey colour scheme which is apparently throughout with symbolism through colour occurring throughout the movie eg. Fantine' pink dress in factory, red jackets in revolt etc.
The first half of the movie was definitely more emotional and intense, but was followed by a more dramatic and perhaps exciting second half, following the structure of the production somewhat. As we reach the climax and ending, there is a great catharsis. Despite the tragedy, the pain, the struggles, there is hope and this is emphasised in the finale which brings it back to a positive light.
Hugh Jackman- Jean Valjean
Russell Crowe- Javert
Anne Hathaway- Fantine
Amanda Seyfried- Cosette
Eddie Redmayne- Marius
Sacha Baron Cohen- Thenardier
Helena Bonham Carter- Madam Thenardier
Also stars Gossip Girl's Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks and Isabelle Allen.
The cast was extremely well chosen. I can see why Samantha Barks beat out Taylor Swift for the role of Eponine. Both Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman gave the performance of a lifetime and is supported extremely well by the stoic Russell Crowe.
Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter create a fantastic and hilarious couple dynamic, bringing laughter to the audience in a very memorable and distrinct performance.
Tom Hooper's risk paid off in a stunning and original musical version of the stage production of 'Les Miserables'. With a flawless cast and beautiful direction, the story of Jean Valjean is brought to life in an emotional, moving and effective way.
Get the tissues ready and prepare to get hooked to some of the smashing songs in the movie, and come next month, expect this to rack up most of those Academy Awards.
About the film
Les Misérables is a British musical drama film that was released at the cinema on 11th January 2013. The film is based on the musical of the same name, and the book of the same name by Victor Hugo. Les Misérables has a run time of 158 minutes and is rated 12A.
In 1815, prisoner 24601, Jean Valjean is granted parole after serving nineteen years for stealing some bread. However, it doesn't take him long to get back to his old ways of stealing when a Bishop offers him food and shelter. After being caught, the Bishop once again offers Jean Valjean a chance to start over, to live a better life and become a better man. In order to do this though, he must break his parole conditions, leading prison guard Javert on a chase to track him down.
Eight years later, Jean Valjean has completely turned his life around. He is now the owner of a factory and they mayor of a town. One of his workers, Fantine, is forced into a life of prostitution to support her daughter being looked after by inn keepers elsewhere. She comes into some trouble with the law herself and when Javert is about to arrest her, Jean Valjean vows to look after her. Unfortunately though, Fantine is sick and as she is dying, Jean Valjean promised to go and get her daughter Cosette and take care of her.
Another nine years later, Cosette is all grown up, living a life constantly on the run from Javert with Jean Valjean. During a time where the poor are fighting back and the lead up to the June Rebellion, young Marius Pontmercy sets his eyes on Cosette and realises his life will never be the same, no matter the outcome of the battle to come.
Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean
Russell Crowe as Javert
Anne Hathaway as Fantine
Amanda Seyfried as Cosette
Eddie Redmayne as Marius Pontmercy
Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thénardier
Sacha Baron Cohen as Thénardier
Samantha Barks as Éponine
What I thought
Although I have never read the book nor seen the musical stage version of this story, Les Misérables was one of the films that I was most looking forward to seeing this year, even with it being released right at the beginning of the year.
Les Misérables is a slightly different kind of musical film. In other musicals, the songs are pre-recorded and the actors sing in a studio then mime while filming. However, where Les Misérables differs is in the fact that all of the singing was done live. I found this to be an extraordinary thing to be done as I have never heard of it before. Knowing this before seeing the film, I did wonder about how well sung the film would be and how it would affect actor's performances. Also, there is very little spoken throughout the film, maybe only a couple of lines. Because of this, you are sitting through a 2 and a half hour film that is full of singing.
Taking the main roles in Les Misérables are Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe as Javert. A lot has been said about these two and their performances. While neither are specifically known for their singing voices, they both do a fantastic job. Crowe has been slightly slated in reviews for not having the best voice but I actually really liked him. As Javert, he's a mean kind of man who only does his job. I think that Crowe's singing voice really suited the character and even though he wasn't perfect, his gruff and deep voice made him seem even meaner to me. I definitely don't think that Crowe deserves the slating that he's been getting about his voice.
While I liked Crowe, Jackman was fantastic. As Crowe's character Javert was a very emotionless character, he didn't have to show too much in his performance and there is where he differs from Jackman. Jean Valjean is an extremely emotional man in many ways and this was something you could see on Jackman's face throughout the film. Jackman also has a wonderful voice and one which he is able to use well while acting at the same time. I really liked Jean Valjean's character as you were able to see so many changes in him over the course of the film. You really get to see how much he changes from his days serving a sentence to when he is the carer of Cosette.
I'm not the biggest fan of Anne Hathaway but I can see why she has been nominated for some many awards for Best Supporting Actress. She isn't in the film for very long but she is truly unforgettable. As Fantine, Hathaway injects a serious sadness into her character and you can clearly see just how much of a struggle life is for her. There is also the unforgettable scene of her singing one of the best known songs for this film, I Dreamed a Dream. I don't think I have ever seen someone perform a song with such emotion as Hathaway did and this scene was very moving to watch.
The rest of the cast are also mostly really good. I say mostly because this film did nothing to change my hatred of Amanda Seyfried. As the grown up Cosette, Seyfried does okay but her singing voice annoyed me so much. It was extremely high and shrill and I just didn't enjoy listening to her. Other memorable cast members include Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thénardier and Sacha Baron Cohen as Thénardier, her husband. However, as good as she was, I think that Baron Cohen is risking playing roles in which she will be stereotyped. Too often does she now play the crazy and eccentric characters. However, saying that, she does do them well.
The stand-out performance for me though was by Samantha Barks who plays Éponine. I read somewhere that Taylor Swift was also up for this role but I am so glad British Barks got it instead. As the girl pining for Marius Pontmercy, Barks is fantastic in her role. I think part of what made her so good was the fact that she has played the same role on the stage, although the characters are a little different. Éponine sings one of my favourite songs of all time, 'On My Own' and Barks certainly does it justice. Along with Hathaway's performance of 'I Dreamed a Dream', this was one of my favourite parts of the whole film.
The setting is also something that needs to be mentioned. Although a film backed by a lot of money, this film does not have a lavish and extravagant set. The setting calls for some dark, dank and dingy settings showing just how bad some of the living conditions in France were during the time the film is set. Still, the sets and backdrops were fantastic throughout and it was a wonderful film to watch because of this. Even though many of the scenes are set in quite depressing places, there is life and colour injected into the film in small amounts in places which was a nice touch.
Les Misérables is by far one of the best films I have seen in such a long time. With an amazing cast, soundtrack and sets, this is probably the film to go and see at the cinema this year.
~~LES MISERABLES (The Movie)~~
*Film version only
Les Misérables is a Golden Globe winner. It won: Best Motion Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress.
It has been nominated for eight Oscars and nine BAFTAS.
My favourite musical, without a doubt, is "Les Misérables." I love the story, and the score. I've watched the 10th anniversary, as well as the 25th anniversary DVD, many times. My youngest daughter is a great fan; she makes me watch this with her, although in truth, it's a pleasure. I also enjoyed being in the audience at the O2 for the 25th anniversary concert performance when I saw and heard Alfie Boe, Lea Salonga, Colm Wilkinson and Michael Ball, to name just a few, singing here, albeit from a great distance away! So you could say I'm a bit of a fan!
When there were first whisperings about this musical being made into a movie my daughter, also a fan, was excited. She kept me informed with gossip and news along the way. By the time the film was released in the U.K. on January 11th 2013, I knew I wanted to go to see the film at the cinema yet I had mixed feelings over whether I would enjoy it. I was in two minds because, loving the film as I do, I thought the film couldn't possibly compare (and might even be annoying) to the stage version. But after seeing a couple of trailers, just before the film was released, I couldn't help but be impressed with the fantastic film sets. I decided I would try to be open minded and not compare the film too much with the stage musical.
~~ABOUT LES MISERABLES~~
The novel Les Misérables was written by Frenchman Victor Hugo in the year 1862. I read this book at school in the 1970s and although I have always been an avid reader, I found it heavy going.
The story of Les Misérables begins with Jean Valjean toiling as a convict just before he is released on parole. Valjean has served nineteen years in prison. He was initially sentenced to five years for stealing bread (to save his nephew from starvation) and an extra fourteen more after escape attempts.
It's nineteenth century France (1815) and the country is once again a monarchy. Many of its people are starving and disillusioned after revolutions and the killing of the king, yet again they have a monarch. Poverty and misery is widespread.
Valjean is also known as Prisoner 24601, as tattooed on his arm. This number seems to also be imprinted onto Inspector Javert's brain as he is obsessed with bringing the ex-prisoner to justice when Valjean later breaks parole and the two meet by chance.
Valjean endures a tortuous time after being paroled. He attempts to find work but as his papers show he is a criminal on parole, no one will employ him or even give him shelter, that is until, exhausted, he stumbles upon a saintly bishop. The Bishop of Digne provides both shelter and sustenance. Valjean by now sceptical to say the least, of human nature, steals silver from the church and makes a run for it. He is soon found by local constabulary who proudly return him, along with the silver, to the priest. They tell the bishop in disbelief that Valjean claimed it was a gift. The kindly man of God insists that Valjean is speaking the truth, thanks the police for their vigilance and sends them on their way. Valjean is amazed that the priest took his part.
The bishop informs Valjean that he can keep the silver but must use it to do good deeds. He tells Valjean he has a soul and must live a good life. Valjean leaves and vows to himself that he WILL live a godly life and leaves, determined to seek redemption from his sins.
Valjean now assumes a new identity, therefore he has to break the terms of his parole.
Years pass and we next see Valjean as a wealthy and upright citizen who aims to help others. But Javert is always around watching and waiting; suspecting Valjean of being prisoner 24601!
Other characters are introduced. Fantine is struggling to support her illegitimate daughter, Cosette. We later meet young Cosette and Eponine. These characters along with Marius and the Thénardiers (innkeepers) are important to the story of love, redemption and revenge, with revolution thrown in.
The last time that I saw Les Mis performed on a London stage I was privileged to see the superb tenor Alfie Boe portraying Jean ValJean. Now Alfie's voice is absolutely incredible and after seeing and hearing him, in terms of vocals, no Valjean, on either screen, or stage, can compare as far as I'm concerned. David Shannon acted the part wonderfully and sang beautifully; Colm Wilkinson must be the most famous stage Valjean so, how did Hugh Jackman compare? Well Jackman is no stranger to the musical stage and I thought he took on this role well. He was convincing as the main character and I was only disappointed with his solo of "Bring him Home." Jackman's version wasn't great; I don't think this song suited his voice at all.
I honestly thought Anne Hathaway as poor, wronged Fantine, struggling to provide for her child, was marvellous. This was great casting. I did hear that during filming of the scene when her hair was cut to sell, she did actually cry. Well, this I can easily believe as the emotion looked genuine.
Well here came the disappointment. Rusell Crowe, as Inspector Javert. Okay, he looked tough and mean, as he trailed Valjean, but he didn't quite get the emotion across, especially in the singing. I suspect this was because he isn't a good enough singer and couldn't put enough feeling into a song which, I felt, he was struggling with. I didn't think it mattered too much for this part if the actor had a great voice or not but those watching with me all said that Russell Crow was the worst actor out of those in the main roles.
Amanda Seyfried as adult Cossette acted and sang beautifully. Young Cosette was played by Isabelle Allen and she was simply delightful.
I saw Samantha Barks as Eponine at The O2 and she went on to play this role on the west end stage. I thought she acted and sung wonderfully and has come a long way since I first saw her on television when she fought for the part of Nancy in "Oliver." She didn't win the part but was certainly noticed. How can anyone have such a tiny waist? I thought of Scarlet O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind."
Eddie Redmayne as Marius was very good and probably more fanciable than some others I've seen in this role. One past on-stage Marius did make me wonder why Cosette fell for him in the first place, let alone Eponine! But Redmayne played the part with emotion and has a very good voice. I loved his rendition of "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" and it's truly one of the best versions I've heard although Michael Ball's version will always be my favourite.
Aaron Tveit played the part of Enjolras, Marius friend and brother in arms. He has a lovely voice and a face to match. Throughout the film I kept thinking he reminded me of someone and then it came to me near to the end-he somehow put me in mind of (better looking though)a young Bob Geldof!
Young star Daniel Huttlestone in the role of street wise urchin Gavroche was perfect.
The nasty and thieving innkeepers, Monsieur and Madame Thénardier, played by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter respectively, were for me, just a little disappointing. I didn't feel the humour was there as it is in the stage version. I think if I hadn't seen Les Mis on the stage then I would have enjoyed these scenes more but I thought they played these roles more as a seedy couple in a televised Dickensian drama than how I think of the Thénardiers, who are so awful they become comic. In truth their portrayals could possibly have been closer to the couple in Victor Hugo's novel (it's a long time since I struggled through this classic) and as I have said, it's probably very different acting the comedian on film, and in song, as it is in front of a live audience. We all thought that Sacha Baron Cohen was quite good but weren't quite as keen on Bonham Carter in the role of the innkeeper's wife.
THE BISHOP of DIGNE
And who better to play this role than an original cast member of Les Misérables than Colm Wilkinson? Wilkinson was the original Jean Valjean but is a little too old for this part now so it was lovely to see him play the bishop and still sing so beautifully.
Les Misérables is directed by Tom Hooper who also directed Academy Award winning film "The King's Speech."
~~TICKET PRICE GUIDE~~
I saw this film at Vue Cinema, Romford and paid just over nine pounds for a ticket. Offers and concessions are available.
I thoroughly enjoyed the film. Of course, if you're a fan of the theatre production of Les Misérables then you won't be able to help but compare the film to the stage version. I've seen the stage version three times (and have booked tickets for a fourth time) and it is difficult not to make unfair judgements, as film and stage are obviously different and require a different type of acting. I would think it's easier to act the comic on-stage when you can feed off of the audience. In the film version the actors have mainly been chosen for their acting prowess or perhaps in some cases for their name, which will help to draw in the crowds. I have now seen many actors portraying the roles and singing the songs and I can say that I thought the film cast, in the main, were excellent with just a few exceptions. Overall casting was good.
As well as the acting being convincing the vocals, in the main, were impressive. The emotion of this story was there throughout. I noticed a few slight differences to the stage version but my daughter informed me that these were in the book. I won't say more as it would be a spoiler. It was a shame that the comedic scenes were a little disappointing and, whatever newcomers to Les miz believe, the stage version especially, is very funny at times, but the film was still very good. I was greatly impressed by the film sets; some were breath-taking.
Comments heard just outside cinema when the film had just finished.
Man A: Who was the man who looked after the little girl?
Man B: What, Valjean?
A: No, the one with the little girl!
B: You mean Hugh Jackman?
A: No, the one who is Wolverine!
Man to his female companion: I didn't think there'd be that much singing. Could've done with a break!
*Les Misérables is rated as a 12A.
Les Miserables takes place in 18th century France, a revolutionary time for France. True to the name the movie follows the miserable life of a man called Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a poor criminal who has spent about half of his lifetime in a prison run by an inspector called Javert (Russel Crowe).
Throughout the movie Valjean's path crosses with a lot of miserable people living miserable lives. One is a mother they call Fantine (Anne Hathaway) who goes to great lengths to take care of her child Cosette (Amanda Seyfriend) who is pretty much a slave for an Inn run by Madame Thenardier (Helena Bonham Carter), her husband Thenardier (Sacha Baron Cohen), and their daughter Eponine (Samantha Barks).
Later on in the movie Eponine falls in love with a man named Marius (Eddie Redmayne) who has just fallen into mutual love with Cosette who now lives with Valjean who has changed his fate and become the mayor of his town because her mother died. Marius must help fight for the French Revolution leaving Cosette very broken. Valjean saves Marius from a horrible death for his adopted child and best friend to make her happy and in the process Javert finds him and in a battle of morals Valjean rises victorious.
The movie has a total of 20 songs and each of them is very unique. I was expecting the singing portion of the movie to be mediocre, so I was pleasantly surprised when each character has a unique voice and can each really sing. Some of the songs were a little harder to stay up for just because there was hardly a part of the movie where they were not singing. All in all though, I loved every single song in it! If you're into musicals and can have an open mind while watching the movie it is definitely a must see!
I have always been a musical lover and this has been added to my personal top ten list of greatest movies second only to the Sound of Music. Since I saw the movie 4 days ago, I have had the songs stuck in my head which is definitely not a bad thing!
The movie is not sappy happy or something to lift spirits so if you are looking for a feel-good show this one is not what you're looking for. Otherwise I 100% recommend it!