Les Misérables (2012)
Directed by Tom Hooper
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried
Jean Valjean (Jackman) has been on the run for decades, seeking redemption and a second chance. He’s being chased by the ruthless Javert (Crowe), a soldeir who has made it his life’s mission to return Valjean to prison. When Valjean agrees to care for Cosette (Seyfried), the daughter of Fantine (Hathaway), everything changes. This decision changes the destiny of all of these people while they struggle to survive in the midst of a revolution.
It takes a great cast to make a movie with a story like this. It takes an even better one to pull of the singing required when it’s a musical. This is the fifth film adaptation of the classic Victor Hugo novel. The story is told through songs performed by the actors who star in the film. Hugh Jackman (The Prestige) and Russell Crowe (Gladiator) anchor this amazing cast with strong performances. Anne Hathaway (Valentine’s Day), Eddie Redmayne (My Week With Marilyn), and Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!) are also strong contributors to the success of this movie.
The acting and singing in this movie are really good, thanks to a great cast and an uncompromising director. I wasn’t sure that these guys could sing, but apparently they can. I was particularly impressed with the work of Crowe and Jackman, they both sang with skill and emotion. I’m sure this wasn’t easy for any of the cast, especially with a director who demanded that the singing was filmed live. In the end, it paid off and makes for some memorable moments throughout the film.
This is also a visually wonderful film, with a backdrop worthy of this epic story. Every scene seems designed to fit with the times and to bring out the emotion of the moment. This comes from the scenery, the sets, and the costumes, all of which seem to fit perfectly.
My one complaint with this movie is the pace. There is a point at which the action seems to slow down a bit too much. The story moves along nicely through most of the film, but during one section of the film the story seemed to slow too much. The pace resumed nicely, but this kind of took away from the dramatic effect I think they were going for. It’s not a fatal flaw, but noticeable enough to mention.
None of this hurt the film in enough to keep it from the awards circuit. The movie earned eight Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Original Song. It also earned nominations for Jackman (Best Leading Actor) and Hathaway (Best Supporting Actress). The movie was also nominated for Best Production Design, Best Hair and Makeup, Best Costume Design, and Best Sound Mixing.
Overall, this is a great movie with wonderful acting and music. I’d recommend this to anyone who likes musicals or has enjoyed the previous versions of this movie. It’s a darker and more emotional film, and it works wonderfully from all aspects. I give this one 4.2 out of 5 stars.