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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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!!
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on 11 January 2013
The one perk of being a cinema manager is you get to watch everything. I have just come back from watching this. Les Miserables is a classic that will live on long after you have seen it. I was not convinced by the casting when I heard about this but I am so happy to be wrong. Hugh, Russel and Anne are just amazing, there singing talent was a complete shock to me. Helena and Sacha give that touch of comedy and everything they do make you laugh. While the well known stars are incredible the newcomers in this movie are the true winners and I will be looking forward to seeing a lot more of them in the future. I will be buying this the moment I can on blu-ray and The soundtrack has just been ordered. So go and watch this as soon as possible do not miss out on a truly memorable experience
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on 13 March 2013
I was not a fan of the music of Les Miserables having attempted to listen to it on CD once or twice. I had no idea of the storyline nor had seen the theatre production. However the visual promotional trailers seemed very impressive so off we toddled to our local cinema.

I'm so pleased we gave it a try.

Both my wife and I loved it! The cinematic shots are visually stunning. I understand that the director insisted that the music was sung on set and not dubbed in later. Maybe that's why it was so powerful - it had heart? And whilst the singing of several main actors isn't classical opera, they put their soul into it and that's what the score needs most! For us, a sterling cast brought the production to life - a moving experience!

We have a colleague who was disappointed with the movie, saying the musical voice quality left something to be desired, but in my view he missed the point. For example, whilst Susan Boyle's rendering of 'I dreamed a dream' is technically superior, it's just a song. Whereas I have to say that Ann Hathaway's version in the movie almost brought me to tears. It wasn't just a song, it was a heartrending cry of despair and, exceedingly wonderful.

Give it a go.
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on 30 April 2013
WOW! I being of the younger generation and not really knowing what this film was about was very surprised to find out that it was filmed entirely through singing, literally every word!

Whilst at the beginning is was unsure, the film suddenly grabbed me and I happily sat there for the remaining 3hrs and just soaked up the brilliance.

OK, OK, the singing is not the best but you have the remember these characters are actors not singers and do a very good job. I thought Russel Crowe stood out in this film, as if he just grabbed the bull by the horns.

I have pre-ordered this for my partner who was tempted to drag me to the cinema again when it was out and I'm pretty sure she will be pleasantly surprised.
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