Sunday, March 24, 2013

Movie Review: Les Miserables

The movie adaption of the musical version of Victor Hugo's epic novel is probably one of the best stage to screen movies in many years.

The cast is full of well known names, though some of those names you didn't realize could sing until you sat down to watch.

Hugh Jackman's portrayal of Jean Valjean is probably one of the best seen since Colm Wilkenson created the role back in the 80s. Oh and Colm? If you watch the film closely, you'll see his part and hear his remarkable voice again. It is a shame Lloyd Webber couldn't have found a place for Michael Crawford to make a cameo when he ruined his Phantom of the Opera by taking it to film. Maybe Crawford could have taught Gerard Butler to sing too..

But back to Les Miserables.

Anyone who questions Jackman's performance should only listen to "Bring Him Home" and then they should shut the hell up!

Anne Hathaway was stunning as Fantine. Her emotional and soul stirring rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream" took this song to new levels. Thanks to reality tv and many many cover versions, the true depth of this song has been lost, but not anymore. She was truly a surprising gem in this film.

There are some people that didn't know Russell Crowe could sing, this film will clear all of that up. As Javert, you have remarkably human if not still obstinate man. His performances of "Stars" and "

Probably the only vocal performance that wasn't stellar was Helena Bonham Carter's Madame Thenadier. It felt like she was holding back, rather than belting out her parts of "Master Of The House" and that was a shame, because otherwise, she along with Sasha Baron Cohen brought the comic relief via their dastardly characters. Some may think that Sasha's inclusion is a sacrilege, but you just have to watch him become Thenadier to know that he was perfect for this part.

I found this film brought some of the characters more into focus. Javert was one of those characters. He was really humanized when he laid his medal on the fallen Gavroche a street child who is part of the revolution. His part is played by Daniel Huttlestone. The other character you see in a more vivid light is Eponine.

In the stage version, you feel sorry for the poor young street girl that longs for Marius Pontemercy (played by Eddie Redmayne), but here you really get the picture of the little spoiled Thenardier girl that was well loved, as opposed to Cosette, who was used a slave to the family.

Anyone who has read the book in either its abridged form or the full 1000+ page tomb will feel Victor Hugo's story come to life in the setting that it was written in.

The movie is lengthy just like the musical and there is almost no spoken dialogue, which really keeps the integrity of the musical.

There were only minor changes made. One is the absence of Gavroche's "Little People" though the reprise of the song is used. The absence of that particular song is a bit sad, because of how wonderful Huttlestone plays the part. He's just as good as Isabelle Allen who was remarkable as the young Cosette.

Amanda Seyfried was a beautiful Cosette, but after her performance in Mamma Mia we know that she could sing and do it well.

The only disappointment was the new song "Suddenly" written for Jackman and sung about Cosette. It just didn't didn't feel right and didn't do justice to Jackman's wonderful voice.

This finely done film is a must see for anyone that loved the musical of has always wanted to see it.

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