Review: Les Miserables (Movie)

Posted by Matt Bourne on 13:55 with 1 comment
Les Miserables (12a)

The film event the majority of theatre goers and musical lovers have been waiting for since the trailer was unleashed earlier this year in 2012. One of the world's most successful musicals still to this day gets the big screen treatment that it seemed destined for from very early on in it's run. Well now here it is courtesy of director Tom Hooper who previously directed the excellent Kings Speech. Well, it looks like Mr. Hooper has managed to pull off an amazing production once more that come Oscar time will be leading the charge in the nominations.

For those who haven't seen the stage production or read Victor hugo's book and to be quite honest there can't be many of those left in the world here is a brief overview. Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a Frenchman imprisoned for stealing bread, has broken his parole and must flee from police Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe). The pursuit consumes both men's lives, and after two decades on the run, Valjean finds himself in the midst of the 1832 June Rebellion in Paris. Jean happens across a factory worker, Fantine (Anne Hathaway) who gets thrown out on the street due to him not intervening form the factory and has to turn to life on streets seeling not only her body but her soul. When Jean rescues her from her from her plight he learns of her illegitimate daughter Cosette, who he vows to look after for the rest of her days. After tracking her down and managing to free her from the clutches of Thénardier (Sacha Baron Cohen) & Madame Thénardier (Helena Bonham Carter) innkeepers who a have been looking after Cosette. With Javert never to far behind Valjean and Cosette disappear off into the night not to be seen again for a few years. In the mean time the crowds grow restless and a band of revolutionary students rise up to take on the establishment. one of their number, Marius (Eddie Redmayne) sees Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) and instantly falls in love, however Marius friend Eponine (Samantha Barks) is in love with him and she also happens to be Thénardiers daughter. The story then builds through the revolution, lives lost, love lost and found and redemption as Valjean and Javerts battle continues throughout.

Les Miserables is stunning tour de force of a musical and quite possibly the best of the modern era. Unlike this years Rock of Ages, which took the narrative and altered it to make it more cinematic, Tom Hooper has altered virtually nothing from the stage show, other than the running order of a couple of songs. While not a perfect film, it is still an absolute triumph of a film. The cast are nothing short of spectacular. There are so many career performances, you are not sure where to start. At the top of the pile is Anne Hathaway, whose show stopping performance of "I Dreamed A Dream" is worthy of a standing ovation in the cinema. If she does not walk away with the Best Supporting Actress come Oscar time, then something is seriously wrong. She has about 30 minutes of screen time, but is absolutely incredible during every second. She's closely followed by newcomer Samantha Barks (Well newcomer to anyone outside of London's theatreland anyway) who again in the short screen time she gets almost steals the entire movie away. Then there's the exceptional leads in Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, both who are no stranger's to music themselves, but are completely mesmerising. Crowe especially as Javert, his sheer determination to track down Valjean is compelling stuff. Also, it's great to see Les Mis original cast member Colm Wilkiinson getting in the act in a cameo as the priest who 'saves' Valjean.

As previously mentioned the film isn't without it's issue's, most notably Eddie Redmayne's wobbly jaw everytime he sing's. It becomes quite a distraction at times. Then there's the barricade itself which is a little bit minimalist compared to the stage version. However thats about all the issues there are with the film. This is an absolute tour de force with a run time to match, but it's well worth the investment of your time. There's not been much to shout about in the way of movie musicals recently, Rock of Ages was widely panned, Rent was a missed opportunity and Moulin Rouge while liked was a long while ago. It's already being reported that the ticket sales for the stage show of Les Mis have taken off with the impending release of this film, well if you can't afford the seat prices, the movie is a worthy replacement and in fact compliments the stage production marvellously #Dear. Grab your tickets for what will be the hottest cinema ticket in January now!

Matt Bourne