So I am a self confessed Les Mis desperate. Ever since I saw the musical in Melbourne in the late 1980s I have just never been able to get enough of it!
It’s no surprise that on Boxing Day I went full of anticipation to see the Movie. I was not sure what to expect. Russell Crowe as Javert, Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean etc. There had been so much discussion
about Tom Hooper’s direction and the fact that all songs were sung live. I wondered if this was to lower expectations?
From the opening scenes in the shipyard with the sound of the water splashing and “Look Down” in semi muffled tones and the mountain scene you are quickly transported from stage to screen. While neither Hugh Jackman or Russell Crowe have the depth of voice that the roles on stage have traditionally command this is quickly overcome. They can both act and it’s a movie so it genuinely works. Jackman’s portrayal of a man wracked with guilt in the monastery sets the scene for a wonderful performance as Jean Valjean.
Much has already been written and said of Anne “Give her the Oscar now” Hathaway and how she quite simply steals the show. Her performance is breathtaking. I have listened and seen many versions of Les Miserables but nobody has and most likely will ever capture “I Dreamed a Dream” in way she does. It’s raw emotion and simply takes your breath away. She isn’t standing in front of a microphone belting it out, she is just sobbing her way through it accompanied by the audience! Magic! It dominates the movie and takes a long time to recover from, so much so that it wasn’t until I saw the movie again a few days later that I realised how well Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen fit the role of the Inkeeper and wife. It’s the light relief and by then you need it.
Crowe’s presence grows throughout the movie. He looks every inch the policeman and both his major songs “Stars” and “Javert’s Suicide” are well done with a talk/sing style which works well for him. He isn’t a weak link at all.
I have always seen Marius as a conflict between strong and love stuck. In this he is maybe a little too love struck for my liking but his voice is outstanding. I found the performances of Amanda Seyfried as Corsette and Eddie Redmayne as Marius satisfying, whereas Samantha Barks as Eponine quite simply nailed it.
The barricade and battle scenes are well done again showing where film comes into its own.
Hugh Jackman has immense talent and he carries his role well with his version of Bring Him Home all the while watched over by the Eye continuing a very strong religious theme, much more evident for me in the movie than in the stage production. I have simply been astounded how the line “To love another person is to see the face of God” has reverberated around the twittersphere.
As the whole of the dialogue is sung, scenes are joined together with added verses. Whilst they are necessary to ensure that the story works they are somewhat trite and jar in places.
Les Miserables the movie is a success. Its another way to enjoy a great musical. It doesn’t seek to be the stage show reproduced to fit the screen but seeks to define itself – bravo!”