Sunday, 13 January 2013

Les Misérables review

Running Time: 157 mins
Directed by: Tom Hooper
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks

There are some films that are destined to make it huge at the box office, even while it’s still in production. Unsurprisingly, Les Misérables made £2.3M in its opening day in the UK on Friday, being the biggest opening day for a musical. I was one of those tickets and I’m glad to have been.

Review: Victor Hugo’s novel has been adapted to film many times before, and then the novel was adapted to a musical. But Tom Hooper’s adaption of the musical is something new. Live singing (no sound editing), extravagant action and phenomenal acting all in one.

Above anything else, Les Misérables is an actor piece; the entire structure is kept together because of the outstanding acting from a ray of perfectly fitting actors. Anne Hathaway’s brutally heart-breaking but enchanting performance as Fantine is entirely worthy of an Oscar, as she steals the film within the first half an hour. Hugh Jackman’s passion and assertiveness as Jean Valjean follows throughout the whole film, so that every moment on screen is a delight to watch because it’s striking. In fairness, everyone is a delight but the eye opener of the film is Samantha Barks who, in her debut film role, shines. Being one of the only stars of the film to reprise her role from the stage show, it’s clear why she was chosen as her voice and mannerisms as Éponine are charming and graceful.
Visually it’s breath-taking, proving that a film production wouldn’t have worked 10 or 20 years ago, because it would have failed to capture the beautiful buildings and cruel, dirty reality of 19th century Paris. There are more than enough awkward angles and unnecessary pans, but with the focus of Eddie Redmayne’s tears as he passionately sings Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, the good points outweigh Hooper’s excessive use of canted shots.

This is a real musical, with minimal speaking dialogue and everything proclaimed through song, something films do not do enough of now. It’s effective, gloriously adding delicacy to the harsh themes of Les Mis, while the live singing from each character captivates the exact overwhelming feeling watching a musical does. After each number there is a burning desire to stand up and clap, to compliment the actor’s for their fine performances despite the fact it’s not live.
Even with the long duration, plus song after song, the pace of Les Miserables is fast and action packed, with something always to admire about the screen whether it’s the gorgeous voices or visuals. Not only does it come with heart-breaking tragedies, but there is action, romance and the odd bit of comedy (from Bonham Carter and Baron Cohen who give the film a lively boost), so when the final credits appear and the urge comes to clap like a live show, the realisation hits that it has been one big, emotional journey.

Les Misérables is stunning, captivating and beautiful. To find a real flaw is impossible.
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  1. Great review! Makes me want to watch the film right now!

  2. Well I never fancied the stage show, but reading your
    review has made me want to see the film.


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