Bentley's Review of Les MisÚrables
Whether it's on stage or on screen, I love watching musicals. It may not be everyone's cup of tea but I love them. I enjoy the music, the choreography, and the stories. I have heard a lot about Les Miserables. I've never read the novel or seen the musical but I know the basic story and have heard one song from it. So what brought me to seeing the film? The cast looked great and the advertisements made the film look worthwhile. I am super happy that I went to see this film. Les Miserables is a grand and emotional piece of entertainment. I find it to be the best film I've seen all year.
The film is set in post-Revolutionary France and the protagonist of the story is Jean Valjean, a prisoner who did time for twenty years for stealing bread. He is constantly being pursued by Javert, a ruthless police inspector. Over the course of seventeen years, Jean becomes the mayor and adopts a young girl named Cosette and plays a big part in the June Rebellion in Paris. The film has two other subplots involving Cosette's troubled mother, Fantine, and a love triangle between Cosette, Eponine, and a Revolutionary leader, Marius Pontmercy.
Les Miserables is a marvelous production. The costumes, makeup, production design, score; they are all eligible for Oscars. The film is helmed by Tom Hooper, who also did The King's Speech. His direction is great. I loved how the musical numbers were filmed. The camerawork was a bit of an issue for me. It was a little shaky in the beginning. I got a little dizzy. I'm going to let that one slide. The cinematography was amazing especially in the very first scene. I thought the opening number was a great start to this great film. It looked great on the big screen and introduces our main character fabulously. I loved how they introduced Javert. The camera angle they used was epic. Hooper directed the solo numbers really well and there was a big emphasis on the singer. The costumes and makeup were also great. The sets and production design were also wonderful. They did a good job recreating nineteenth century France.
The acting in this film was great too. I am a fan of Hugh Jackman and I found his performance as Jean Valjean to be the best of his career. He put a lot of emotion into his role and you feel for him throughout the film. Russell Crowe did an awesome job as Javert. You can feel the tension between him and Jean. Javert's solo number had me at the edge of my seat. I thought Amanda Seyfried did pretty well as the older Cosette. I loved the little girl who played the younger Cosette. She showed emotion and the song she sang, "Castle on a Cloud", was beautiful. I liked Samantha Barks as Eponine. She was beautiful and I felt for her character a lot. Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen played the Thenardiers, a pair of sleazy and mischievous innkeepers. They were the comic relief characters and they were super entertaining. When Sacha Baron Cohen came on screen, the audience started to giggle. They were an enjoyable duo. I highly enjoyed Eddie Redmayne and Aaron Tveit as the two Rebellion leaders, Marius and Enjolras. Also, I loved Daniel Huttlestone's performance as Gavroche. That little kid was awesome! Lastly, Anne Hathaway's performance was the best of her career. Her character, Fantine, moved me. Anne is probably going to get a lot of awards for her performance. I thought her singing was incredible. I find "I Dreamed a Dream" to be one of the greatest songs ever written and Anne Hathaway knocked it out of the park with her rendition.
Apart from Anne Hathaway, the singing in the film wasn't very strong. I feel the actors gave it their all when it came to the singing but they don't have the greatest singing voices. Les Miserables is mostly operatic. The characters are singing from beginning to end nonstop. There is very little dialogue. I didn't think Hugh Jackman was a very good singer. His voice sounded a little silly in some parts. I thought Russell Crowe sang pretty well. The song, "One Day More", gave me chills. Amanda Seyfried sang pretty nice. Samantha Barks was also a nice singer as well. I thought she was pretty. I fox whistled in the theater when her character, Eponine, came on screen and I made a few people laugh. The singing was good at best but nothing spectacular with the exception of Anne Hathaway. The lyrics to the songs, however, were amazing. It's sheer poetry in my opinion.
The thing I loved the most about Les Miserables was the story. It takes place during a crucial part of France's history and you see what these people went through. It broke my heart seeing all these poor people and all of them dreaming for freedom and justice. When the rebellion part of the story came on, I was at the edge of my seat and I had all my attention fixed on the screen. The last forty-five minutes are intense! This is one of the saddest and heartbreaking films I've seen in a while. I didn't cry but I choked up a lot throughout the film. The film is worth seeing on the big screen. I had a lot of fun seeing this and the audience seemed to be into it as well. There was a power surge in the theater and the audience got pissed off. Someone started making shadow puppets with the light from their phone and projected it onto the screen and that was hilarious. When the power came back on, we were oh so happy.
Les Miserables was an amazing movie. The singing could have been stronger but the lyrics, performances, and setting blew me away. This is a great film and I think the studio made a good decision by releasing it around the Christmas season. It's gonna pick up a lot of awards in the next few months. The film is a crowd-pleaser and it's entertaining from start to finish. You get invested into the characters and story. I think those who are not into musicals will enjoy the film. My theater applauded at the end and it deserved it. Les Miserables is the best film of 2012 in my opinion. I loved it and I highly recommend seeing it. I definitely plan on getting the Blu-ray when it's out.
♫To love another person is to see the face of God.♫