Movie Review - Les Miserables


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Critic's Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Samantha Barks, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter
Direction: Tom Hooper
Genre: Drama
Duration: 2 hours 38 minutes

Story: Jean Valjean is a man shackled to his past. A petty crime sees him a 'slave of the law' for 19 years. Out on parole, he tries making a stab at a new life but a piece of paper brands him a dangerous man forever. An act of kindness later, he finds himself paying it forward. However, not before buckets of tears are shed.

Movie Review:
Set in the 19th century, this Tom Hooper adaptation of the Victor Hugo classic merits attention first and foremost for its stellar cast. Each song carries the power of the words the characters utter. When they're angry, you feel the rage, when they're joyous, it's spring and when they're in tears, everything turns a darker shade of dismal grey.

As Valjean, Jackman plays a variety of parts exceedingly well. He's a convict, he's a factory owner, a mayor, a benefactor, a foster father and a hero. As a foil to the protagonist, Crowe as the persistent prison guard/inspector Javert is annoyingly good. While not as consistent in clarity of dialogue delivery as Jackman, he makes up by playing conflicted soul to the hilt.

By contrast, Anne Hathaway doesn't leave as much of an impact despite an impassioned (read: weepy) portrayal of the frail, fatalistic Fantine. Amanda Seyfried (as the older Cosette) and Eddie Redmayne (as her suitor, the rebellious Marius Pontmercy) are efficient. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter (the downright evil Thenardiers) bring their quirky brand of menace to the table yet again. Samantha Barks (as Eponine) is a revelation. Her rendition of 'On My Own' is actually more rivetting than Jackman's 'Suddenly'. Watch out for this one, she's gonna go far!

Top-notch music (Claude-Michel Schonberg), cinematography (Danny Cohen) and production design (Eve Stewart and Anna Lynch-Robinson) add to the experience. To truly enjoy this film, be patient (the length IS an issue), persevere (in spite of the sing-song dialogue) and prevail (the film's actually not as tedious as you'd expect a period historical musical to be).

You may not like this movie if you don't like musicals that make you cry.