DVD Review: Les Miserables
Oh my gosh! Where do I start with this? How about “I loved it!” or “It was amazingly, gut-wrenchingly good?” or “Why have I never seen this musical before now?”. In short, I absolutely loved this film. I could barely fault it; not on the performances, the costumes, nor the script…which by the way was kept, as far as I know, in tact from the original musical.
So the question I’ve given you at the moment is why? Why did I fall absolutely in love with this film so much that I plan on watching it again and again?
Well, I’ll start with the cast. Because I swear, you need a strong and talented cast to pull off what this film did. It’s the first of it’s kind to film the singing live on set, while filming. Now you may think “why is this such a big deal?”. Its a big deal because usually they rehearse record music numbers in the studio, till its perfect and then just mouth it on set. These actors had to get it pitch perfect whilst filming. And it made it so real! It felt anything but over rehearsed. The actors emotions came through in their singing it made it so believable. You’ll see what I mean when you see Eponine singing On my Own. That performance alone had me near tears.
Hugh Jackman was fantastic. Knowing he’d had Broadway experience with Boy from Oz I thought, “Yeah, ok, could be good”. I didn’t expect him to carry the film so amazingly. Absolute stand out performance as our convict turned redeemed father figure, Jean Valjean. Anne Hathaway’s commitment to her role as the starving prostitute Fantine was almost obsessive but brought a convincing character to life. She did this supposedly by eating two oatmeal paste crackers a day for two weeks or something and under medical supervision. Not that I’m recommending this I just admire her commitment to the role, And I loved her rendition of I Dreamed a Dream. Cosette was played by Amanda Seyfried. Pretty voice, and the caliber of songs, a step up from Mamma Mia for her. Speaking of which. Russel Crowe as Joubert…Great acting, so much passion. Unfortunately every time he sang I was reminded of Peirce Brosnan’s attempts to warble in the ABBA film. Not exactly a thought you want going through your head during a dramatic scene.
Throughout the story, which focuses on the road to redemption for Jean Valjean, we are provided with comical relief from who else but Sahca Baron Cohen (Borat, The Dictator) and Helena Bonham Carter (Sweeney Todd, Harry Potter). They play Thernadier and his wife Madame Thernadier who are young Cosette’s ‘foster family’, if you will. Cosette is sent to live there by her mother Fantine, who sends money to support her and in the end goes to extreme lengths to do so.
After rescuing Jean Valjean rescue Cosette as a favor to a dying Fantine, we are thrown into the midst, the real brawl of the French revolutionaries. With a young Marius (Eddie Redmayne), who sings like a lark and his other eager revolutionists: Enjolras (Aaron Tveit) and Gavroche (Daniel Huttlestone) who was just cute, cheeky and witty. We get to follow them all on their road to freedom. Whatever that may mean to them. It was well done and very entertaining with a lot of raw emotion.
In terms of set, and costumes. This period drama/musical delivers on all levels. Totally put in perspective with the opening number of Look Down, whilst having hundreds of prisoners pull in a huge war ship. That was amazing. The revolutionaries costumes were perfect. And you had no doubt which class you were dealing with. Although perhaps they had too much fun with Cosette’s wedding dress?
The cinematography was pretty darned good. My only complaint being that because of musical numbers and live performing there were a lot of closeups/mid shots that did get a tad annoying. The ending number of all the characters lined up on the barricade totally made this up to me.
All in all, I really loved this movie. And there were only a couple of niggly things to me. So I’m going to give this a 5/5 because I’ll most definitely watch it more than once.
M Violence and sexual references.
Reviewed by: Abbey Pitchford