Hugh Jackman, Academy Award winner Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway star in this critically-acclaimed adaptation of the epic musical phenomenon. Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables
tells the story of ex-prisoner Jean Valjean (Jackman), hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (Crowe), after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine's (Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever. This enthralling story is a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit and "an unforgettable experience" (Richard Roeper, RichardRoeper.com).
DVD - Region 1; Blu-ray- Region Free.
is a deeply powerful film that's rich with raw feeling, the grittiness of life in 19th-century France, and the conflict between right, wrong, and the concept of redemption. Les Misérables
takes viewers on an emotionally exhausting journey as it follows ex-convict Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) after his release from prison. Valjean breaks parole, but he is granted a second chance by a kind bishop. He then moves from place to place throughout France, trying to live an honest life while ruthless policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) hunts him relentlessly. Valjean meets the broken-spirited Fantine (Anne Hathaway), promises to care for her daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) as Fantine is about to die, and finds his own life completely changed as a result of that promise. Like the stage play, the film is dark, gritty, and passionate, but it enhances the sense of place in early- to mid-1800s France as a staged version simply cannot. The intricately woven plot is somewhat easier to understand here, thanks to an abundance of visual cues and the camera's unique ability to focus in so closely on the actors' faces. In fact, the intimacy of the extreme close-ups used throughout is at once uncomfortable and hugely effective. The vocal performances are generally quite good, especially considering the decision to record them live versus the customary overdubbing. Sure, some of the actors' voices seem pushed and strained at times, but that fact often only adds to the emotional intensity of the moment. Hathaway's performance is stellar, both for her vocal prowess and for the depth of feeling conveyed and maintained in her facial expressions throughout even the lengthiest and closest of close-ups. While Crowe seems an odd choice for Javert and is definitely outsung by the other members of the cast, he holds his own when it really counts with solos that are on-pitch and arguably even more powerful for their imperfections. Discerning listeners will not choose the film's Highlights from the Motion Picture Soundtrack
over the full-length London or Broadway cast recordings, but sometimes an outstanding performance isn't all about musical perfection--the overall Les Misérables
film experience is definitely one of those cases. New for the film is the song "Suddenly," written by the musical's original composer and lyricist Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg. Trivia buffs will note that the bishop is played by Colm Wilkinson, who originally played Valjean in the London and Broadway stage productions, and Whore #1 is played by the original London and Broadway Eponine, Frances Ruffelle. --Tami Horiuchi