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168 of 191 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best film I've ever seen, 11 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Les Misérables [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
... 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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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Jan 2013 23:22:44 GMT
Thanks Madame Thenardier , the information in this review added to my enjoyment of
The film. I felt in the film the Thenardiers were a little less loveable rogues than on the stage. but the film was tremendous and the extra details in exposition you mention helped, and Crowe's Javert made his pursuit of Valjean more understandable.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Jan 2013 23:58:32 GMT
Thanks for your comment Chess Fan. I completely agree with you about the Thenardier's, they certainly weren't quite as funny as in the stage production, the wedding scene especially springs to mind. I also felt that, with Javert, Crowe really went the extra mile to humanise him - as much as I adore Hadley Fraser's Javert, it wasn't quite in line with how Hugo described him, so it was quite refreshing to see Crowe's take on the character.
Thanks again for the comment, it's much appreciated.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jan 2013 14:03:33 GMT
In Victor Hugo's novel on which it is all ultimately based I do not remember the Thernardiers being funny, just evil. I think the novel deliberatelycontrasts the hero Jean Valjean, who ultimately responds to mercy, with the Thernardiers who merely exploit it. I think Victor Hugo's rather serious point was that we cannot expect charity and mercy always to be reciprocated, but that the fact that they sometimes are must be enough to justify them.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jan 2013 17:53:34 GMT
Thanks for your comment Legal Vampire and that's a very good point about the Thenardier's in the book since they do leave such a sour impression on readers. Although I've always thought of the book and the musical as two separate things entirely just because there are so many differences between the two, for example the robbery which I think is handled much better in the book. I do think the difference is necessary though since, as uplifting as the story is at the end, some comic relief really is needed throughout, so the Thenardiers still have a purpose, it's only that it's dramatically different from Hugo's intention. I really like your point about charity and mercy, and really I suppose that's what the whole story is about, from the bishop right through to Valjean. Thanks again for your comment, I hadn't really thought about that aspect of it before and it's great to hear other interpretations of the book.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 19:20:42 GMT
Enjoyed reading this review, have seen the film twice and the stage show twice, in common with yourself I also thought that Russell Crowe was fine also, obviously not a trained singer, but thought he was excellent in the part and his singing voice was good

Posted on 21 Apr 2013 13:21:09 BDT
JG says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Apr 2013 16:14:34 BDT
To be honest it's probably just me looking for symbolism where it isn't, I just quite like the idea that somebody who played the convict originally, comes back to play the bishop that changes Valjean's life at the beginning of the story. It's almost as if the story has happened in real life and Wilkinson has mirrored Valjean's story, which for some reason just gives me hope :) I know I'm reading far too much into it, but that's just how the casting choice immediately struck me. I'd be interested to know what you thought about the choice?

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Apr 2014 14:22:51 BDT
Tractor boy says:
I still just don't get the hype over Les Mis. Saw it in the West End and was disappointed with it. Thought Phantom was far better. Now I watched the film last weekend my views are still the same. It was long and boring in parts. Why do some people love this show/film so much? There is only one memorable song in it. Too much shouting for the sake of shouting in other songs. So, so overrated in my opinion.
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