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Les Misérables

Les Misérables: Excellent Adaptation of Illustrious Stage Musical

  • Amanda SeyfriedAnne Hathaway...
  • DramaMusicals...
  • Tom Hooper
reviewed by
Marija Loncarevic
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Les Misérables: Excellent Adaptation of Illustrious Stage Musical
Based on Victor Hugo’s classic 1862 novel, Les Misérables is considered to be one of the greatest stage musicals of all time.  Hugo’s legendary tale has been long-celebrated and has lived throughout numerous films, stage productions and television adaptations over the years.

Award winning director Tom Hooper takes on the challenge of adapting this story of struggle, justice, love and freedom to the big-screen – and does so with grace, power and beauty.

The story is set in 1815, France.  It’s several years after the French Revolution and the country’s situation is foreboding and cruel – the rich are only getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.  Jean Valjean (Jackman), a man who has been imprisoned for 19 years for stealing to feed his family, is finally released.  The discharging officer Javert (Crowe) holds no sympathy for Valjean, believing that a man is not capable of change; once a thief, always a thief.

Back in the real world, Valjean struggles to make ends meet.  Being a former convict, he is soon shunned by society and desperate, he once again resorts to stealing. However, this time instead of getting sent back to prison, he gets pardoned by a kind priest who provides Valjean with a few pricey possessions to start a new life.

Several years later, Valjean finds success. Going by the name Monsieur Madeleine, he is a proud factory owner as well as the Mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer – a small town in Northern France.

As a man who has never forgotten his cairorevamp_users, Valjean shows sympathy for one of his factory workers, Fantine (Hathaway), who was wrongfully thrown out on the streets by the factory floor manager and now works the streets as a prostitute. Promising to take care of her young daughter, Cossette (Allen/Seyfried), who is enslaved by the devious innkeepers Mr. Thenardier (Cohen) and Mrs. Thenardier (Bonham Carter), Valjean must also find a way to stay ahead of his archenemy, Javert, who is closely at his heels.

Being a true musical, Les Misérables is completely sung-through and there is little room for dialogue. Though considerably long, it clocking in at just over two hours,  the amazing cast and the fact that the actors sang live on set – as opposed to lip synching to a pre-recorded track – the whole production is nothing short of thrilling.

A lot of effort was obviously invested in the set-design, make-up and costumes; murkiness and misery plays as the backdrop to the story and all of the elements blend in beautifully; from the torn up rags to the sweeping overhead shots, the cinematography really goes beyond imagination.

Apart from the commendable cinematography, the performances by the gifted cast are what make Les Misérables that great.  Jackman, who comes from a theatre background, gives a performance of a lifetime.  His presence is powerful and his soulful voice plays the tortured and emotional role of Valjean amazingly well. As Fantine, Hathaway’s performance is a serious tear-jerker and possibly one of the best female performances of the last year. Although she is given little on-screen time, her touching rendition of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ lands with tremendous impact.

As the star crossed lovers, Seyfried and Redmayne (who plays Marius) work  well together and Bonham-Carter and Cohen provide some much needed comic relief as the mischievous, pick-pocketing innkeepers . The only weak link is Crowe; he seems to have a little trouble hitting the high notes, but his passion and portrayal of the villain ultimately works.

Les Misérables is an epic tale of integrity, honour and love that has stood the test of time; a majestic yet brutal story that will pull at your heart strings. This is an adaptation that does it justice.

Like This? Try

Moulin Rouge (2001), Rent (2005), Chicago (2002)

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Several actors went through transformations upon receiving their roles;  Anne Hathaway lost 11 kilos in total for her portrayal of Fantine, while Hugh Jackman lost 13 kilos in order to play Valjean as a prisoner.

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