Dmitri's Review of Les MisÚrables
Top Movies of 2012 - #4
Les Miserables is the sort of movie I never thought I would love, a movie that seems to only appeal to the artsy type and a musical nontheless. But of course, after I watched it, I was blown away and immediately allocated it a spot on my top list.
What makes this movie great is its characters and its plot. Each of the roughly 10 major characters are all finely developed through their music, which is itself amazing due to the live singing of the cast, it perfectly captures the emotion of the characters in each song, something that would not have been accomplished if the actors merely lip-synced. One perfect example is Anne Hathaway's "I dreamed a dream", where she expresses so much emotion in her words, that one is just brought to tears during the segment. The songs themselves carry so much emotion that we begin to truly bond with each of the characters.
The plot tells a tale of a man, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) who is trying to right the wrongs he made in the past, while being hunted by Inspector Javert (Russel Crowe). He adopts a girl, Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), through a promise made to her mother, Fantine (Anne Hataway), who dies indirectly through his actions/non-actions. The plot arches out in many directions, from not only following Jaljean, but Cosette and her love interest Marius, and his fight alongside his friends in the French Revolution. The plot develops to a grand scale in the 2 hours and a half runtime, reaching a bloody climax and ending on a happy yet tragic note. You are gripped throughout, because of the epic plot, and of course because you care for the characters themselves.
And this is where Les Miserables excels, in its human element. You love all of the charactes even the antagonist, and through this you are pulled within the plot and a seriously affected when something happens to any one of them. I can go on and comment on the amazing set pieces and costumes that add uniqueness to the world, or the score which of course compliments the songs, or even the special effects whcih establishes the plot on a grand scale. So many things come together to make Les Miserable a great movie.
Tell me 6 months ago when I saw the trailer for Les Miserables in Dark Knight Rises, that this movie would get a 5/5 from me, or would manage to tie with Dark Knight in my top movies list, and I would laugh at you. But here I am, saying this:
Les Miserables is one of the best movies of 2012
At a runtime of around 3 hours, there is a lot of time to either bore your viewer, or entrance them, Les Miserable does the latter. Within the long runtime, we are told a massive story of a man struggling to redeem himself, and of a man who is hunting him down. We meet many characters, several other personal tales are told and our hearts are broken. Les Miserables, in other words, has an amazing plot, with great characters, much like the source material it is based on.
Despite having around 12 actors, each telling their own stories, not a single one of these actors isn't amazing. Every member of this cast does a great job in bringing their character to life. Most notably, are Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway. Being the main character, we share in Hugh Jackman's Valijean's suffering, through his songs and performances, that brings his character to life. Anne Hathaway's Fantine deserves extra credit for making me cry at her portrayal of the character. During her performance of "I Dreamed a Dream", her strongest point, ever word of her wonderful singing, is packed with so much power and raw emotion, that we feel the pain she feels, we experience the hell she's living in and we cry her tears. After watching Les Miserables, I listened to her song for hours, as I felt empty without it. And THAT my friends, its what a movie should do, make you care about its characters to such an extent that you cry for them.
But this emotion would not have been achieved without the unique idea the movie does right, live singing of the cast. This aspect may have taken quite a bashing from several critics, but in my eyes, um, ears, it was just perfect. The actors are allowed to emit their emotion through their songs, while their expressions match to suit, we see the emotion emitted in each line. I honestly think, without the live singing, the emotion would be lost. Even Russell Crowe, who received some criticism for his singing skills, aids the movie in achieving something that improves the experience of Les Miserables, it makes it feel natural.
Les Miserables is a movie about its characters, sporting such a strong human element that we are engrossed for the 3 hours runtime, since we care for these characters. There are several special effects used throughout the film, but none of them ever overshadow their cast, the cast overshadows the effects. I also commend the costumes for each characters, the people involved did a great job with it, and I believe they deserve their Oscar nomination.
I'll be honest, Les Miserables didn't seem like the kind of movie that I would like, musicals not really appealing to me. But after watching it, I'm glad I did, since I saw one of the best movies of the year. Les Miserables is a success in every human aspect, which is worthy of carrying the movie alone.