"Les Miserables" (2012) Movie Review

Uploaded on Thursday 20 December 2012


The transformation of the beloved Broadway musical, “Les Miserables,” into a big screen event is a daunting task. The filmmakers must satisfy the fans of the stage play and convince the non-believers. I can tell you now that the film adaptation stays true and improves on the Broadway production.

Like many fans, I have seen the Broadway play numerous times, yet I have not felt the story’s full impact until after I saw the movie version. What was once seemingly inferred on stage becomes highlighted on the big screen. The epilogue becomes much richer.

Big credit goes to Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”) who made two important decisions for the film version. First, the movie is entirely sung-through which gives the adaptation an operatic feel. Second, the actors are encouraged to sing live-to-film to add passion to their singing style. The result is a true spectacle of a movie about hope and redemption.

Based on Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name, “Les Miserables” is a mesmerizing tale of broken dreams and unrequited love. Set against the backdrop of 19th century France, the enthralling story of Jean Valjean, played wonderfully by Hugh Jackman, is the film’s epicenter.

The actor endured small amounts of food and water and rigorous exercise routines in order to lose weight as the hunted Valjean. He is prisoner 24601 sent to jail for stealing bread. Upon his release, the moralistic policeman, Javert (Russell Crowe), takes it upon himself to make sure Valjean does not break his parole.

The ensemble’s commitment to the craft is truly what makes this movie work. Each and every one of the cast threw themselves into the role especially Anne Hathaway as the tragic factory worker, Fantine.

Hathaway’s signature song, “I Dreamed a Dream,” will make you cry hard. The story of a factory worker who becomes a prostitute in order to take care of her daughter, Cosette, will break your heart. Hathaway not only reclaims the song from Susan Boyle, she will also be honored by the Academy with a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
Crowe also did a good job as the ruthless inspector even though his songs are predominantly “talk songs.” Amanda Seyfried as the grown-up Cosette also belts it out and her character is the film’s beacon of hope.
Eddie Redmayne, who gave a memorable performance in last year’s “My Week with Marilyn,” is also game as Marius, the student activist who falls in love with Cosette. But the cast’s breakthrough performance comes from the relatively unknown Samantha Barks as Eponine.

Barks, who came from the reality TV ranks with the U.K. show “I’d Do Anything,” proves that she owns Eponine’s signature song, “On My Own.” If you didn’t know anything about the performer’s background, you would not think that this is her first film ever. Barks blends well with the rest of the cast.
The script by William Nicholson, adapted from Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s original stage musical, captures the story’s spectacle. It is also interesting to note that Hooper invited the original musical’s creator, including producer Cameron Mackintosh, be part of the creative team.

Hooper’s dream of creating a film version of “Les Miserables” is finally realized. The director’s visual grandeur is evident from the opening scene (“Look Down”) to the epilogue. “Les Miserables” is truly one of the best movies of 2012. Just a word of caution, bring lots of tissues because the movie will make you bawl your eyes out.



Language: English

Length: 2:30

Country: United States