Les Misérables (2012)
Running Time: 158 minutes
Directed by: Tom Hooper
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried
Les Misérables is originally a French historical novel published back in 1862, written by Victor Hugo, and was later adapted into films, musicals, plays and such. So, it’s not strange that recently, the story is once again adapted into a musical drama film. The storyline is based on the musical by Alain Boubil and Claude-Michel Schonberg and the novel. Let me try to lay down a simple introduction to the film for you.
The film follows Prisoner 24601, also known as Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) who is released on parole by the prison guard Javert (Russell Crowe) in 1815, after serving a sentence of 19 years. Valjean then decides to break his parole, in order to create a new life and identity for himself. Eight years later, Valjean becomes a factory owner and mayor of a small town. He then meets Fantine (Anne Hathaway), who becomes a prostitute in order to support her daughter. Valjean saved her after a near arrest by Javert, and promises to take care of her daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried). This decision then changes the lives of Valjean, Cosette, and even Inspector Javert for the remaining years.
As many have said previously, one of the most admirable qualities of this film is Tom Hooper’s decision to make the cast sing live on camera, instead of lip-syncing to a pre-recorded track like many previous musicals. I think this truly gave the movie, the tone of a Broadway musical just like the one it’s based on. And of course, the cast’s singing is simply perfection, and regardless you’re listening to the songs from the CD soundtrack or while watching the film, you could just feel the rawness of the emotions the characters were going through during the scenes. I don’t know how many takes were required to achieve this, but it just gives me the goosebumps, no matter how many times I listen to it. Furthermore, the acting… the ensemble gave a stellar performance, which will make you not only empathize with the characters, but makes you feel like you’re right there fighting the battles with them – whether it is the rebellion, or an unrequited love, or simply being down in the dumps. Moreover, what I really liked about the film were the close-up shots of the characters against a dark/black background, especially during their solos. It gave the actors the chance to showcase their emotions and ability to act and sing, which we wouldn’t be able to witness this clearly if it were a play.
Overall, a powerful musical film with top-notch performances from the entire cast, simple choreography, beautiful cinematography and editing, detailed designs and costumes, and last but not least, a great adaptation and courageous directing. Oh and let me add one more last detail, if you’re going to watch this film (which you should), be prepared for lots and lots of singing and some Kleenex.
Rating: 8 ½ out of 10.