Review of 'Les Misérables'

les_miserables.jpg Finally the famous musical is brought to the big screen with a big budget to match.

Jean Valjean (played admirably by Hugh Jackman) is a prison convicted of stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family who is released from prison only to find that the world is not as forgiving so finds himself caught for stealing from a church. He is forgiven and told to use the money to “make himself an honest man”. Valjean makes the decision to take on a different identity, becoming a fugitive from his parole. Javert (played by a solid Russell Crowe with solid voice to match), Valjean's former master in the jail, pursues. The action flashes forward with Valjean being the mayor of a town where a young woman, Fantine (played by Uma Thurman) is working hard to pay for the upkeep of her child, Cosette who is being “watched” by an inkeeper (played wonderfully, if slightly understated, by Sacha Baron Cohen) and his wife (played by Helena Bonham Carter, why does she always look the same no matter what movie?). Losing her job Fantine resorts to prostitution then eventually, on her death bed, entreats Valjean to take care of her child. Valjean whisks Cosette away from the innkeeper and we move forward a few more years. It is Paris and there is growing dissatisfaction after the revolution has not made the life of the poor any better. A young revolutionary stirs up the crowds to baracade the streets…but they do not appear to have the support of everyone, will they take it all the way? Meantime Cosette has fallen for one of the revolutionaries, Marius (played by Eddie Redmayne). Javert arrives on the scene looking for the escaped convict but fate puts Javert into the hands of Valjean, will Valjean take his revenge?

Much has been said about the fact that the singing was recorded live on set and I can actually hear that and this is all the better for it not having the slight distracting of a slightly out of sync singing soundtrack put on top of other movies. The singing itself is very good and quite convincing. I think I would have personally been happier if Russel Crowe was a lot deeper and fuller sounding but that is all that really stood out to me in any way. The effects are amazing and the look is incredible - Very immersive and quite convincing (we attended a talk with the Production Designer who really gave us an appreciation for the detail that is on the screen). As a bit of a Les Mis purest I was not entirely happy with some of the cuts they made to the score but I can see this needed to be done to keep the running time to under 3 hours! The story moves along very quickly and, as with all productions of this show, can be confusing to first time viewers…The spectacle though…Wow.

I think this is Oscar-bait. If you can't really get into musicals, this might be one to give a try. Amazing.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2013-01-18

Directed by: Tom Hooper

Studio: Working Title Films

Year: 2012

Length: 157 minutes

Genre: Musical