Monday, March 4, 2013

Review: Les Miserables

                                                        A Musical Not To Be 'Mis'sed

                            I have seen plenty of musicals in my time, but hardly any of them have been as unique as the new adaptation of the classical story Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

                           Les Miserables is set in early 19th-century France, and is about a convict named Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) who violates his parole after being imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread. His violation leads to him being pursued by Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe), and as he changes his identity, he cares for the illigetimate child of a factory worker turned prostitute Fantine (Anne Hathaway). From that point, the story spans over several years and the main characters are caught up in the French Revolution.

                           What I Liked About It:
                         Like with my other reviews, I'll start off with discussing the acting. Hugh Jackman delivers a bravura performance as Jean Valjean, and ditches his Wolverine image with ease. Anne Hathaway easily delivers a standout performance as Fantine. In a movie that runs about 158 minutes, she gives one of the best performances in the entire film despite her limited screen time. Plus, her heartbreaking rendition of the classic song "I Dreamed A Dream" will put you in tears, and in my opinion, it is what won her the Oscar. Amanda Seyfried gives a touching performance as Cosette, Fantine's daughter. I feel that the way she sings and acts really captures the essence of a songbird, which is a representation of her character: pure and innocent. Eddie Redmayne gives a solid performance as Cosette's lover, Marius, and he and Seyfried had delightful chemistry. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter are the comic relief as the scheming Thenardiers, and really steal the show. Though in Carter's case, that's no surprise because she never fails to impress me.

                       But the last actress I'd love to talk about is Samantha Barks, who plays the lovelorn Eponine. She not only has a terrific singing voice, but she delivered a terrific performance as well, and made you sense the heartbreak her character was going through. I especially loved her rendition of "On My Own", which ironically is the song that Anne Hathaway did a rendition of when she hosted the Oscars, and sang it to Hugh Jackman. After watching Barks' performance in this, I look forward to her future work, same with Eddie Redmayne.
                        Another thing I really liked about this film was how even though the film was 158 minutes long and was about 95% singing, I still found my eyes glued to the screen. I think it's because of Tom Hooper's brilliant direction as well as the actors, who are really able to express their character's emotions as they sing. Even though the film itself isn't a Broadway musical, it sort of has that feel to it when you watch it.

                       What I Didn't Like About It:
                      While I did enjoy all of the actor's performances, I felt the one weak link was Russell Crowe. He wasn't exactly bad, he just didn't leave that much of an impression when on screen.

                       Other than that, there's nothing else that I can say that I hated about this film.

                      Overall, Les Miserables is a flawlessly interpreted musical about love, redemption, hope, and death. While the characters are put in rough situations, the film does an excellent job at portraying their hope for a better day, which is what makes the film uplifting in a way. It's well acted, well written, beautifully directed, and is probably the best musical I've seen in quite some time.

Rating: 5/5

*Note: You may want to watch it with a Kleenex because it does get sad at times.