I promised on my Facebook yesterday a quick review of the new Les Miserables film which everyone seems to be talking about. N and I had planned to see it while we were in KY (it was already out over there) but instead saw it last night.
I won’t go into too much detail about the plot… most of you will already know it anyhow. Les Mis follows the story of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman, yummy), a convict who after being paroled breaks his parole and “disappears”. He’s pursued by the ruthless Inspector Javert played by a fantastic Russell Crowe and becomes a wealthy, moral man of God. From there, things just get more complicated for Valjean after saving poor Fantine (Anne Hathaway) from Javert’s clutches. I’m going to end it there… I don’t want to ruin anything else for anyone who has no clue what the story is about. There’s nothing I hate more than unwanted spoilers!
So what did I think of the movie? Let me preface my opinion by saying I’m fully aware I’m a cry-baby however N is most definitely not. He cried more than once during the movie while I, horribly choked up to be fair, managed to hold it together. It was definitely a very emotional film with moments where I was so overwhelmed that it was difficult not to just weep. Anne Hathaway’s performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” blew me away… I can’t even listen to it in the trailer anymore without wanting to cry. Hathaway’s portrayal of Fantine was flawless; from what I’ve read from her interviews, she wasn’t afraid to literally become Fantine while filming. Her dedication really shows.
Other standout characters/actors were the Thenardiers, played by Sacha Baron Cohen and (genius) Helena Bonham Carter. When they first appeared on screen I couldn’t help but be reminded of Sweeney Todd which they both appeared in as well. They were a brilliant duo, really capturing the squalid desperation of the Thenardiers but adding a bit of comedic relief to scenes that otherwise might have been too overwhelming.
Samantha Barks as Eponine? Brilliant. Enough said. I really look forward to seeing more from this young, gorgeous actress. And I can’t rave enough about Daniel Huttlestone as little Gavroche.
I’ll be 100% and critical about Amanda Seyfried… I didn’t like her in Les Mis. I’m definitely a fan of hers but I just didn’t feel like she fit Cosette. I didn’t care for her singing voice either–very high pitch. Russell Crowe was a bit weird for me too and N and I both agreed that he took some getting used to.
Visually, the movie was gorgeous despite portraying the underbelly of Paris for what it was… stinking filth. The bit in the sewer? You could almost smell the shit, I kid you not, and I felt myself squirming in my seat. The actual scenery was well done and the costumes were amazing. I’m big on costumes and honestly, if they’re done stupidly or wrong they can wreck an entire movie.
Cinematically, the camera shots at time were a bit strange and took some getting used to. Director Tom Hooper seemed to favour tight, up close facial shots and often the characters were singing directly into the camera and making direct eye contact with the audience, like in this clip:
On a big screen, that can be a bit weird at first. By the end, you just kind of get used to it.
So would I recommend Les Miserables? Yes. There are a few differences to the book (if you’ve read it) but if you can look past that you’re in for an amazing treat.