If you’re a musical theatre lover or fan of Les Miserables on stage, then you’re going to love Les Miserables on film. If not, you’ll probably find this two and a half-hour epic hard going.
Set in early 19th century France, this cinematic version of Les Miserables is based on the 1985 stage musical by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Bublil, which in turn was based on Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name. This is a faithful reproduction for the screen of one of the most successful and best loved musicals of all time.
Clear from the outset is a reminder of just how beautiful and gut-wrenching the music in Les Miserables really is. If you’re after pitch-perfect renditions of songs you once saw on stage nearly 30 years ago, then this is not the film for you. Sung live on take with hidden ear pieces and off-screen accompaniment, this Les Miserables will deliver authentic and highly charged performances that will draw you in to the characters and plot much closer than you were able to in the theatre. This is equally impressive for both the action sequences as it is for the more tender moments in the film.
The cast is one of the strongest assembled for a film in recent memory. Tony Award winner Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Academy Award winner Russell Crowe as Javert, Anne Hathaway as Fantine, Amanda Seyfried as Cosette and comic relief provided by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the innkeepers Mr and Mrs Thenardier.
The surprise packets in this film are Eddie Redmayne as Marius in a superb performance and Anne Hathaway whose Fantine must surely be a strong contender for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. We all know Hathaway can act, but did you know she could sing beautifully as well? Don’t be fooled by the critics whinging about the quality of the voices in this film. All but Russell Crowe are fine, with the quality singers being Jackman, Hathaway and Redmayne. Although Crowe’s high note attempts can be a bit grating at times, this roughness suits his character of Javert, so he gets away with it.
This is probably the best we’ve seen Hugh Jackman on film. A stunning performance with emotional intensity, Jackman’s Valjean is genuinely engaging. Will Jackman get an Oscar nomination, too? He certainly deserves it. We will find out come January 10th. Let’s not forget the child actors in this film, either. Isabelle Allen, the girl who plays Young Cosette and whose face is on just about every Les Miserable poster around the globe, is fabulous. Young Daniel Huttlestone’s cheeky portrayal of Gavroche is also very strong.
Les Miserable fans and musical theatre lovers, this film is not to be missed. Partners … enjoy the popcorn!