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Les Misérables Review
I will start this off by saying this is my first experience with Les Misérables. I hadn’t read the book nor seen the play, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. And I must say, I was very impressed. What drew me to seeing the movie, besides its critical acclaim, was the fact that the actors had to sing on the spot. You can hear the difference; it’s grittier and more natural. It all works due to the gritty cinematography, production value and the beautiful voices of the cast.
The story is full of tragedy and despair, but there is always a ray of hope. I won’t say too much regarding the story, but I will say that it is long, deep and thought-out. Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is generally the ray of hope, and his transformation is quite beautiful. There are a few story-arcs throughout the movie, but Javert’s (Russell Crowe) hunt for Jean throughout France is the only constant. Hugh Jackman puts on a strong performance during his numbers; “Valjean’s Soliloquy” and “Suddenly” are outstanding. You wouldn’t expect such a voice from Wolverine. I feel Crowe may have faltered a little. Although, that could’ve been because of his character being detestable. His solos were nice, but definitely not the highlight of the film.
The story of Fantine (Anne Hathaway) is perhaps the most tragic, being that she is never really given a chance at happiness. Hathaway gives a breathtaking performance, especially during her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream.” Her voice is incredible. Her acting is top-notch and the way she sells the song about how her life has fallen apart merits a few tears to say the least.
Jean and Fantine’s stories cross and in the middle of that intersection lies Fantine’s young daughter, Cosette (Isabelle Allen/Amanda Seyfried). Jean agrees to help Fantine by taking care of Cosette after buying her from the Thénardiers (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter), thieving innkeepers who serve as the comic-relief of the movie. They play their parts as a smarmy, sneaky couple quite well and serve to add a few laughs to a very sad film. “Master of the House” is one of the many highlights of the film.
As Cosette gets older, her story becomes that of a love story shared with Marius Pontmercy (Eddie Redmayne), a young man taking part in a revolution to overthrow the French government. Marius is unwittingly beloved by Éponine (Samantha Barks). Seyfried, Redmayne and Barks share a well-execute number, “A Heart Full of Love.” Seyfried and Redmayne make their love at first sight seem very believable, and Barks make you feel strong sympathy for Éponine.
Overall, Les Misérables is a musical that is rich in story, good characters and great music. The only complaint I can think of is that the movie is long. There really isn’t any time wasted, and the multiple story-arcs help to make it feel faster, but you can’t help but feel its run time as the movie reaches the two hour mark. If you’re into musicals and you’re able to plow through its two hour and thirty-eight minute run time, then Les Misérables may be an experience worth feeling.