Carlin's Review of Les MisÚrables
Of all the Broadway musicals that I've seen over the years, LES MIS was never one that I thought I would like, in spite of the beautiful music from it, such as the song which catapulted Susan Boyle to international fame, "I Dreamed a Dream".
But with such big box office names such as Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Helena Bonhomme Carter, and Baron Sacha Cohen leading the cast of the new movie version, I finally had to give in and see what I've been missing. This stellar cast did a marvelous job of bringing the classic Broadway musical to life on the big screen!
For those unfamiliar with the storyline of Les Miserables, Hugh Jackman plays ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, a man hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (Crowe) after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine's (Anne Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever. The movie spans a time frame of several decades starting with Jean Valjean toiling away as a prisoner after spending 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread so his nephew would not starve. Javert is the head guard of the prisoners and has it out for Valjean from the beginning.
Valjean breaks his probation after he is given a break by a priest, who shows him compassion for the first time in his life, and becomes a model citizen under an assumed name, eventually becoming the owner of a factory with hundreds of workers under his employment. One of those employees is the beautiful Fantine, but when he is distracted by an unexpected visit to his factory by the ruthless Javert who has been promoted to chief of police, he defers the resolution of an argument involving her to one of his supervisors, and he puts her out on the street, which then leads to her becoming desperate.
The songs were recorded in a groundbreaking method for a musical with the vocals being recorded live as the actors sang the songs with piano accompaniment playing on earphones in their ears as opposed to being pre-recorded in as studio and then lip-synching the songs as they are acting the scene. The orchestrations were then added afterwards following the actor's singing style as opposed to the actor following the orchestra. It worked very well for the most part although some of Hugh Jackman's singing isn't as good as I know he is capable of. Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried perform their songs beautifully! Russell Crowe should stick to acting rather than singing! All in all, as the first real screen adaptation of a Broadway musical to come along since Mama Mia in 2008, it is wonderfully done and it just might break those box office records as the biggest box office musical film production of all time!