HOLLYWOOD—A sensational musical comes a dime a dozen, on top of that it’s not easy to make a refreshing musical that attracts all audiences. The problem with musicals is no one in life just bursts out in song and dance, but that’s beside the point. Take yourself away from reality for a second and invite yourself to “Les Miseablés.”
The famed musical adored by audiences all over the world is based on the 1862 novel by Victor Hugo. The Broadway musical was indeed transformed into a major picture several times, but nothing on this scale. The picture stars Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, a man imprisoned nearly two decades for stealing bread. It’s hard to fathom that in some countries punishment can be so severe for those trying to survive. After being imprisoned Valjean has a new outlook on life. It’s at his factory, that he has a chance encounter with Fantine (Anne Hathaway) that forever changes his wife.
To say that the character Fantine is tragic would be an understatement. She is that lost girl that many of us see quite often, but we turn our nose away. What Hathaway does with Fantine is remarkable; it’s absolutely one of the finest performances I’ve seen on the screen in a long time. Not only is she singing her heart out in the climatic moment of the ballad “I Dreamed A Dream,” but she has her hair shaved and is brutally beaten down physically and emotionally.
As a spectator if your heart does not hurt for this character you’re not human. It’s a musical number that will wow the spectator and strike emotions in you that some would not believe exists. Hathaway is absolutely the glue to the picture and makes every single second she is on the screen count. It’s her best work to date.
When Fantine is exposed for sending money to her illegitimate daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) her world is turned upside down as she eventually becomes a prostitute. Valjean makes a haunting promise to a dying Fantine to look after her daughter. Cosette’s life resembles that of Cinderella; impoverished, unimportant to many, yet she catches the eye of Marius (Eddie Redmayne), a student who partakes in the revolution and falls madly in love with Cosette. Some could consider “Les Miserablés” a tragic tale of love gone wrong. Marius is indeed another star of the musical in a performance that allows the actor to shine in the musical arena and the dramatic backdrop.
Jackman as well does exceptional work as the doomed hero, but its Crowe’s performance as Inspector Javert that was not as convincing. Personally it was a mishap in casting, as I kept thinking why Russell Crowe is in this movie. Be warned “Les Miserablés” is a long picture clocking in at 2 hours and 40 minutes. A few of the musical numbers weren’t as powerful as others and could have easily been dismissed knocking off about 20 to 25 minutes of the picture presenting a more well-rounded pace.
Director Tom Hopper does present the musical in its epic form on a grand scale that is a wonder to watch on the screen. There a few loopholes in the storyline that falls flat at times, particularly unwelcomed characters; Sacha Baron Cohen I’m talking about you. While some will consider “Les Miserablés” an imperfect musical, Anne Hathaway’s acting in the picture is impeccable. She steals the show, bringing heart and raw emotion to a musical that is rarely seen on the screen. Bring a tissue you’ll need it.
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