Cast: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Eddie Raymayne, Samantha Barks, Aaron Tveit
Les Miserables is a Broadway based on the famous book by Victor Hugo with the same name. It has gone on for over 25+ years on stage and is renowned. This movie is an adaptation of that Broadway led by the producer of Cameron Mackintosh who is also the one who put it all together on stage. I will give you a general plot summary in case you are unfamiliar with it. Les Miserables is about the life of a man called Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman). He was convicted because he stole some bread for his sister’s dying child and after that trying to escape, he ended up staying as a slave in jail for 19 years. When he gets his parole by Javert (Russell Crowe), that is where his story starts. Valjean is angry at the world and of the prejudice and discrimination he gets because of his convict. The cause is poverty and when the priest welcomes him, he steals his silver and runs away. When he is caught, the priest defend him and say that he gave it to him as gifts and gets rid of the police. He then asks him to use the silver well and become an honest man. Flashing forward eight years later, we see that he now is the mayor and is known around the town. He lets go of Fantine (Anne Hathaway) accidentally and then leads up to her falling deeper and deeper. In regret, he saves her and promises to take care of her daughter, Cosette. At this time, Javert has entered into the town as the police. He learns of Valjean’s identity and then pursues him to bring him back to the law. Valjean quickly escapes and runs to save Cosette from the innkeeper (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his wife (Helena Bonham Carter). After he escapes from town, we flash forward to another nine years later and they are at the brink of a French Revolution. General Lamarque, who stands up for the people is on his deathbed and the people are getting ready to rebel lead by Enroljas (Aaron Tveit) and Marius (Eddie Raymayne). We also see that Valjean and a grown up Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) has returned. Through this, we get the love story that comes alive with Cosette and Marius. We also see Eponine (Samantha Barks), who has a crush on Marius and is the innkeepers’ daughter and she helps. Its here that the French Revolution happens and Valjean decides to help out in hopes to protect Marius. Long plot summary, I know but it was the only way that I could bring everyone into the picture.
Let me first by saying that out of the few 2012 movies I did see and I saw some really high expectation ones, this one is my film of the year for 2012. Its not because I do love the Broadway and the music to bits. The story is fantastic. I had my doubts about this movie even though I was pretty hyped up about it. Knowing the musical itself very well, this could have easily bombed, as most musicals adapted into movies turn out. This one had wonderful voices to support it. Thats one of the most important parts because it is ALL singing. The dialogue is sang just like the original musical. Now that we are on music and vocals. If I was to treat this as a standalone film, its perfect. However, I do know the actual musical, there was a few issues with casting. Russell Crowe has a beautiful voice but I didn’t think it was strong enough for the role of Javert, but since he nailed the last solo song that he performed, I let it pass. Hugh Jackman really made the role his own. The BEST role was Fantine as she was captivating and just pulled at my heartstrings. However, if I was to put a weak link, I’d say it would be Amanda Seyfried. She has a very sweet voice and she did a pretty good job as Cosette but her voice wasn’t as high so it turned a bit shaky and that bothered me a bit. I was extremely shocked by Eddie Raymayne. That guy is a wonderful actor and has an amazing voice and just his expressions when he did his solo was just amazing. I’d also like to give special mention to Samantha Barks, as she is a really awesome Eponine. She also played this role for the 25th anniversary in concert performance and she was fantastic in that as well. I’d really like to see her in more movies because she makes a pretty good actress. Another special mention is to the priest who did the role of Jean Valjean in the 10th anniversary musical. Although, I think Jackman got some pointers from him on being a good Valjean because there are similarities in the way he expresses it. I wonder if that did happen.
Another thing that a lot of people seemed to criticize was the close up shooting of the characters. I actually thought that it did add to the movie experience because above all, this is a musical and a lot of the acting is in how they express themselves in their faces and perhaps less their movements. I can tell how it could be bothersome at times, but nothing beat the biggest thing that is unique to my movie experience and thats French subtitles for the lyrics flashing at the bottom which cut off part of the performer’s face because of the close-up. It comes with the territory though, so what can I say? It was something I had to live with.
Another mention has to go out that this is produced by Cameron Mackintosh who is the one who put together the musical in the first place. To me, he is renowned for putting together successful musicals and seeing him being the producer of this already gave it so much more promise. Very pleased with that!
It turned my New Year’s Eve into a slight cry fest because it was just so emotional. To have me cry in public is not a easy thing to do, but I did because it was done so well.
This movie is a must-see because its probably the best musical that has been made so far. I highly recommend it if you are into musicals. If you aren’t, it might be harder for you to enjoy it.