Review: Les Misérables
Jean Valjean seeks a new life and redemption after serving 19 years as a slave for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family. He is hunted by the suspicious and proud Inspector Javert for breaking parole, while looking to atone for his past by running a business, aiding the destitute, and taking care of the orphaned Cosette.
Who’s in It?
Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe are masterful as Valjean and Javert, while Anne Hathaway’s performance as Fantine will bring you to sadness. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bomham Carter play the despicable and lowly innkeepers, offering both comic relief and revulsion. Die hard fans will also enjoy Colm Wilkinson, who has played Valjean on stage, as the Bishop of Digne.
A powerful piece of cinema that is driven by talent of its actors, the film stays faithful to the stage production, and features some of the most moving and inspiring scenes of the year. Tom Hooper, director of The King’s Speech, knows enough to stay out of the way most of the time, letting the camera simply sit on the actors as they sing; Hathaway’s ‘I Dream a Dream’ is an intense, introspective experience from which you cannot escape.
At times the film moves a bit too quickly, and the only downfall is that there is not an intermission to catch your breath. The grandeur of some of the pieces, especially ‘One Day More’ which ends the first act of the musical, requires of anyone watching a moment or two to recover, it’s simply that powerful. The film moves quickly though, but the actors are all up to the task to take you away into the world of revolutionary France.
Crowe surprises the most, but his deep voice and ability to wear a uniform makes him a fearful but sympathetic Javert. Jackman and Hathaway and perfect, and the young stars, Daniel Huttlestone and Isabelle are equally as powerful. Fans of the music will be reminded why they loved it in the first place, and newcomers to the music will be drawn in by its power and emotion.
Should I See It?
Absolutely, at least one, and very soon.
From their first meeting;
Slave: “My name is Jean Valjean!”
Inspector: ”And I’m Javert! Do not forget my name. Do not forget me, 24601.”