The story itself could hardly fail to grip. Embittered by twenty years' hard labour for stealing bread, parole-breaker Jean Valjean is transformed by a bishop's kindness, resolving from now on to make something of his life. Instead for decades officer Javert pursues, he blinkered by duty and regarding Valjean as unfinished business. The two are on collision course. Meanwhile France is in turmoil, another revolution seemingly on its way....
Visually the film is stunning. The plot is so strong, it disappoints (at least for a while) that the singing of the two leads is not more powerful. Anne Hathaway heartrendingly makes impact with "I Dreamed a Dream" - a raw outpouring of anguish from one now without hope. "Master of the House" proves perhaps more muted than usual - accompanying "business", although amusing, rather a distraction. "Do You Hear the People Sing?" appropriately stirs. Much in the film's later stages proves genuinely moving.
Viewers' reactions may well be determined by the route so far taken. Mine is via the original London cast album and the two lavish anniversary celebratory concert versions (the 10th one preferred because of its power, involvement and truly awesome, memorable climax). Hopes would understandably thus be high for film performances that at least matched or even surpassed those previously experienced.
Despite initial disappointments, the film offers much to applaud. In many ways it does justice to a musical so successful all over the world. The plight of the oppressed is always one that strikes a chord, stirring emotions. On stage and screen "Les Miserables" is more to experience than simply to watch - audiences often reduced to tears, emerging uplifted.
Here again many will fall under its spell.
on 21 February 2013
This film is nothing short of outstanding. Having never seen the stage musical, I wasn't sure if I would like the film or not, but I left the cinema feeling overwhelmed and emotionally drained at what I had seen. There truly are no words that can praise this film highly enough, and how Tom Hooper never received a Best Director Oscar nomination I will never know! Hugh Jackman is just exceptional as Jean Valjean and truly gave the performance of his life, as did Anne Hathaway. There is not one thing I can fault about this film and it is definitely a 'must see'. The music will leave you entranced, the performances will give you goosebumps, and the story will leave you emotionally wrecked. Have 2 boxes of tissues ready! 5 stars is not enough to rate this film!
on 10 May 2013
Venturing into the cinema to see one of the most highly regarded films of the last year, I was clearly something of a minority. Many others there had seen the West End play. Most others knew something of the story. But not me! So, as a Les Mis virgin what did I think of my first time...
Very good actually. Les Miserables the film is a bold and epic spectacle based around a main story lasting over most of an adult lifetime and many clever sub-plots. It has some fine performances by the main cast- Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and the award-winning Anne Hathaway - as well as fine support throughout, most notably by young Daniel Huttlestone and Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the perfectly cast comedy couple. Light relief from an intricate, complicated set of stories putting the film at over two-and-a-half hours which is perhaps a little too long. Nevertheless all loose ends are tied up for a strong finale to this impressive, musical adaptation which is well worth seeing.
on 28 December 2012
Director Tom Hooper has literally rewritten the book with regards to filming critically and popularly acclaimed musicals like "Les Miserables" in his riveting, excellent cinematic adaptation of one of the world's most beloved musicals, while hewing more closely to the original text of Victor Hugo's novel; it is both a fantastic and magnificent cinematic adaptation of the musical. Hooper gambled that he could film "Les Miserables" by having the actors singing their roles during the actual filming without having them dubbed later in post-production, and not only has it succeeded beyond the expectations of many, it truly feels as though you are hearing a live outdoor performance of "Les Miserables". The cast is superlative starting with Hugh Jackman's compelling portrayal of Jean Valjean, as a conflicted soul trying to escape from his penal past; his singing is exceptional, most notably in his soliloquy "Bring Him Home", hoping the young revolutionary Marais (Eddie Redmayne) escapes from the Paris 1832 student-led uprising, so he can be united with his adopted daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried); so too are Anne Hathaway (Fantine) and Russell Crowe (Javert), with Hathaway giving an especially poignant rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream", widely regarded by many as the unofficial "anthem" of "Les Miserables". (Crowe has been condemned by some critics for his singing, but he shows his ability to sing nearly as well as his co-stars, especially towards the end, and offers viewers an emotionally complex portrayal of Javert that remains true to Hugo's depiction of him as a loyal civil servant intent on upholding French law.) Both Sacha Baron Cohen (Thenardier) and Helena Bonham Carter (Madame Thenardier) are especially memorable as the hustlers who are the guardians of the young Cosette (Isabelle Allen) until Valjean steps in, appearing later towards the end of the film, and so too, Colm Wilkinson - the original Jean Valjean in the London and Broadway stage productions - as the Bishop. Along with the excellent cast of actors, the movie features excellent musicianship from the likes of harpist Skaila Kanga and composer/arranger/pianist Anne Dudley, who has contributed additional music to the film score. "Les Miserables" is one of the best cinematic adaptations of a musical I have seen and will be remembered as such for years to come; without question, it is among the best films of 2012.
First things first, I love "Les Miserables" the musical and have seen it a number of times, I love the performance, the composition, the whole theatre atmosphere when the power of song just blows you away. I was not sure if the [Oscar-nominated] film could transform the live theatre atmosphere onto the screen.
I am not going to say anything about the quality of music and singing, I cannot sing myself and admire the attempts of "live singing" of actors who are not professionals and yet, a lot of them, especially Anne Hatheway, performed magnificently. But the male population of the cast was not as raw and I did not think Hugh Jackman's singing was emotional and open enough. He talked in a singing voice, he attempted. Moreover, the conflict between Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe's characters, which lives through the musical, was somewhat lost in its transition to the film. I just could not seem to get into this, and when I did, it felt like I was more under the influence of the actual musical, rather than the film. The close-ups of the actors are just too much and somehow singing in this movie did not captivate me at all. I have goose bumps every time I see the musical live in the Queen's theatre.
Of course, the whole production was magnificent. Helena Bonham Carter's performance in pair (and a duet!) with her screen husband Sacha Baron Cohen was very entertaining. Once again, Bonham Carter stole the show for me. This epic story on love and loss, faith and hope, vengeance and forgiveness is worth seeing, especially if you haven not read the book and have not seen the award-winning musical. With the majority reviews being 5 stars and people sobbing, I still prefer the real thing. It's like going to Glasto and living in a tent for a few days or watching it being reported live on BBC.
on 19 March 2013
I have seen the stage show twice and have now seen the film twice (once was just not enough). Wasn't sure what to expect after seeing the stage production but what a magnificent adaptation for the cinema. Had never seen Hugh Jackman before (where have I been living?) but he was absolutely awesome as was Ann Hathaway and Russell Crowe. I think the fact that Russell Crowe was not the greatest singer in the world actually added pathos to his role. Made it even more heartfelt. Shame that Hugh Jackman didn't get the Oscar. He deserved it. My only gripe was Amanda Seyfried whose widening of eyes can get a little irritating and her voice was so high pitched that it was almost painful. Apart from that the entire production and cast were absolutely magnificant. Please re-release the film in a few years time as, no matter how large your TV, the effect on the cinema screen is unique. Bravo!
on 11 January 2013
... and probably ever will see.**SPOILERS**.
I still can't get over how brilliant this film was; it's certainly the best adaptation of Victor Hugo's epic novel that will ever be made in our life time. There's all the depth of the musical with the added bonus of material from the book, making it the most loyal adaptation there has ever been.
Key elements of the film that went well were: Hugh Jackman's Valjean - although not vocally better than Alfie Boe, Jackman showed the journey of Valjean from convict to loving father with an indescribable ease that was just wonderful. Additionally, the barricade scenes were fantastic and provoked many tears throughout the cinema - look out for the West End's Fra Fee (Courfeyrac),Killian Donneley (Comberferre) and Alastair Brammer (Jean Prouvaire) in particular. Fee and Donneley's reaction to Gavroche's death was absolutely heartbreaking and I was on the brink of tears until Hadley Fraser (the Army Guard leader), also from the West End, appeared on screen - he really made it seem like the National Guard were regretful for what they were having to do, which I've never seen before. Another stage actor who was fantastic was Samantha Barks as Eponine, having had a lot of experience with the character she really brought something new to the role and made the audience feel her pain, but with a hint at the insanity described by Hugo. I was particularly pleased that Hooper made her get shot saving Marius as Hugo intended it, as opposed to just being hit whilst climbing the barricade. Anne Hathaway was absolutely fantastic; I've never seen 'I dreamed a dream' acted so well and effectively before and I truly believe Hathaway actually became Fantine for those 5 minutes. Her death, in which she hallucinates about Cosette, was also absolutely heartbreaking and the best interpretation I've ever witnessed. Eddie Redmayne's 'Empty Chairs at Empty Tables' was beyond description, the pain in his face looked so real, and the audience could feel such a connection with the Barricade boys through the film which I think made this scene work even better. The epilogue also absolutely floored me, and I have to admit I couldn't see through tears for half of it, but it was so beautiful and the 'Do you hear the people sing' reprise so uplifting. Ironically, there was a lot of laughter in the final scenes as literally the whole cinema was in floods and so began to laugh at it.
Something I've never experienced in a cinema before is applause after a film - at least I hadn't until tonight. The film was just so brilliant we couldn't really help it.
I adored that Francis Rufelle (the original Eponine) came back as a prostitute in this adaptation, but what stood out for me more was Colm Wilkinson's coming full circle from being the original Valjean to playing the Bishop here. Unlike the stage show, the Bishop's ghost appears with Fantine at Valjean's death and it was just so perfect I couldn't stop the tears from flowing - it also emphasised Valjean's rising from a resentful convict to a loving, honorable man.
Unlike many of the critics, I was also a fan of Russel Crowe's Javert. From reviews I went into the film expecting to hate him, but he fully captured the character of Javert in a completely different way to any actor before him - and the emotion in his eyes was just ridiculous!! I was particularly glad Hooper thought to include the Notre Dame and Palaice de Justice on either side of the screen for Javert's suicide, just as is described in the book, as it emphasises the characters struggle with morality and the law.
I cannot recommend this film enough and I think I ran out of superlatives to describe it a long time ago. However, if you are expecting to see a carbon copy of the stage musical on screen, then this is something it's not. But this film takes the good bits from the musical and adds elements that wouldn't make sense on stage to film to allow more scope and involvement of the audience. It's just fantastic and I doubt if I will ever see a better film. Now all we have to hope for is the extended cut on DVD.
**UPDATE** having received this DVD after pre-ordering it from Amazon I was incredibly disappointed to see that there were no special features on this version. While it is still being sold at Sainsbury's for I believe about £7 WITH another disk of special features I would strongly recommend going there to buy this DVD rather than paying £2 more to buy just the film.
on 31 March 2013
The most Beautiful, moving film I've ever seen! Hugh Jackman was magnificent and was robbed from getting best actor oscar in my opinion!! I could go on and on and be a complete bore, all I will add is I cried, and found it wonderful!!
on 22 December 2012
This filmed version went places that the stage show could not physically take you visually.
So many highlights, too many to mention here...go & see it for yourself. Watch out for "Empty Chairs, Empty Tables", Eddie Redmayne absolutely floored me! That's not to take it away from all the cast. Stunning all round!
Look out for Colm Wilkinson...a very nice touch!
Well done to ALL involved.
The Bluray version of this film will be in my collection as soon as it is released!
on 8 June 2013
Enjoyed the movie. Very interesting video content. Sound quality good but standard of singing disappointing when compared with previously issued les mis versions.
Gets a two as I wanted a digital copy and the method by which you have to get it and sign up and then try a get a copy to work on my tablet was impossible. Why not just make it a simple download in a standard format? I feel as though I was totally ripped off!!!