Les Miserables (2012) – Film Review

Les MiserablesThe world famous musical, Les Miserables, seen by millions of people since it’s original premiere in 1980, was sure to get a cinematic adaptation at some point. Based on the original story by Victor Hugo, the musical sees escaped convict Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) try to make a better life for himself during a time of French revolution. He encounters many desperate souls lost in a time of political turmoil including Fantine (Anne Hathaway), Marius (Eddie Redmayne) and Cosette (Isabelle Allen/Amanda Seyfried). However, he is chased down by the relentless Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) who wants to see justice done by recapturing the elusive criminal. The film shows how these stories of struggle and anguish run along the people’s uprising in early 19th Century France, the human aspect is both heart warming and sad as we see the true pain felt by many different characters.

I think this film will be a dream for fans of the musical, the characters that we already know and love are brought to life by famous faces and voices in a way never seen before. The story of the musical gets a strong grounding within the French setting and it makes the impossible on stage possible as the settings and scenes are more detailed and can be explored more thoroughly than onstage. With additional songs and lyrics to move the plot on and explain things we may not have known before, the transition onto film was sleek and well-done. The singing in the film was also filmed ‘live’ as the actors acted which made a more emotional feeling to the lyrics, rather than a dubbed over voice. The film musical adaptation has been a long time coming and they certainly put a lot of thought into it to make sure it was done properly.

The only negative aspect is obviously for the non-previous Les Miserables fans, there is a lot of singing, very little lines are spoken so if you aren’t keen on the semi-operatic dialogue then this is certainly one to avoid. The stories and plot are very moving and emotional, but it really isn’t possible to just focus on that if the singing is putting you off. I should also mention the filming style is a constant tracking shot, obviously used to have less cut shots and make the stage aspect come through. However, some scenes never stay steady, so if the camera never staying still annoys then perhaps this is another reason to avoid Les Miserables.

But if you can see past the singing then this one is definitely recommended from me. There are so many strong performances (except Russell Crowe, who needs to get some singing lessons), mainly Anne Hathaway for her Oscar winning role despite being only onscreen for less that 10% of the time! A potential tear-jerker for some viewers, it is a must watch for me and I would recommend seeing it on stage as well when possible!

A very impressive:

4/5

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