543 of 583 people found the following review helpful
The much anticipated movie adaptation of "Les Misérables " has arrived, and director Tom Hooper deserves praise for infusing Victor Hugo's iconic story of Jean Valjean with drama and profound emotion. Hugh Jackman is superb as the former thief who is pursued relentlessly by his nemesis, Inspector Javert (a ruthless and bitter Russell Crowe), but Valjean focuses on redeeming himself by treating others with kindness. Anne Hathaway is affecting as the desolate Fantine, forced into prostitution in order to support her child. Valjean mercifully adopts Cosette, Fantine's daughter, after her mother's untimely death.
Helena Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen are deliciously over-the-top as the Thénardiers, greedy innkeepers who steal from their customers and extort cash from Fantine for Cosette's upkeep while they keep the lonely girl in rags. Samantha Barks's show-stopping solo, "On My Own," is thrilling. Eddie Redmayne and Amanda Seyfried are appealing as Marius and the adult Cosette. Finally, the wonderful Colm Wilkinson lights up the screen in his brief appearance as the Bishop.
Why see this film if you have already taken in the Broadway show? First, Hooper distills the essence of the plot without getting bogged down in extraneous exposition. He elicits terrific performances from actors whose faces and voices are beautifully expressive. Since much of the dialogue is sung, it is worth pointing out that the sound quality is excellent and the performers take pains to speak and sing distinctly (not a given in today's films). Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil's score and Herbert Kretchmer's lyrics are often soaring, at other times tear-filled and poignant, and always unforgettable.
The audience with whom we viewed "Les Miserables" was visibly moved by this tale of self-sacrifice, love, and salvation. For an expensively mounted musical production, it is surprisingly intimate. We grow to care about the characters and are transported from the darkened theater to the turbulence of nineteenth century France. Vive "Les Misérables" and bravo to Tom Hooper and his exceptional cast.
421 of 468 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2013
You know I went to see "Les Miserables" on Christmas Day. You know I convinced family and friends to not get together for dinner on Christmas evening, as was the tradition, because seeing this film was more important. I've been waiting to see "Les Mis" for months, damnit, and I wasn't about to wait any longer. I was ready to see something phenomenal. Something that would be a sucker punch of emotion...and a chance to see some of my favorite actors in a film like I've never seen before.
"Les Miserables" is unlike any film musical I've ever seen. The level of emotion is unmatched. The performances are out of this world. The story is ambitious, and the scope is huge. It's at once a very personal story about its various characters, but at the same time, these people are singing for a generation, that has fascinating parallels to events going on today. It's an incredible feat that I didn't think could be committed to film so well.
Director Tom Hooper certainly had the courage of his convictions. A film adaptation of Cameron Mackintosh and Claude Michel Schonberg's beloved stage musical "Les Miserables" had been in development hell since the mid 1980s. The pieces for a successful film adaptation never quite came together. A non-musical adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel starring Liam Neeson and Uma Thurman came out in 1998, but that film was sub-par at best.
Hooper assembled a cast that doesn't seem like the best fit for a musical, including Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway, none of which, to my knowledge, are trained singers. He then decided that these actors, as well as everyone else in the cast, would sing live, instead of lip-synching to studio-prerecorded tracks. I had not known that movie musicals typically did it this way, and that singing live was a new and scary thing. This element would heighten emotion for the audience. This idea is superb and will show to be a game-changer for movie musicals. Each actor's performance is more intimate and personal than they would have been otherwise. Hooper really wants the viewer to connect emotionally with these characters, and for the most part, we connect with these people deeply.
"Les Mis" follows Jean Valjean (Jackman), a man who was jailed for nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread for his starving family - five years for the theft, and thereafter for subsequent attempts to escape. He breaks his parole, and police inspector Javert (Crowe) dedicates his life to imprisoning Valjean again. Valjean comes across Fantine (Hathaway), an unwed mother who, after unjustly losing her job, is degraded to the point of no return, being forced to sell her hair, her teeth, her body and her dignity. Valjean promises Fantine that he will raise her daughter Cosette as his own, in her absence. Valjean then saves Cosette from the Thenardiers(Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter, pairing up in their second movie musical), neglectful guardians and scheming inkeepers, and the story picks up years later, where Cosette is a young woman (Amanda Seyfried), living mostly in peace. A young revolutionary Marius (Eddie Redmayne) falls in love with her. The Thenardier's destitute biological daughter Eponine has a hopeless and unrequited love for Marius. These young characters dive headfirst into what would become a very important part of the French Revolution.
The story of the French Revolution, as depicted in the film, is so reminiscent of Occupy Wall Street protests that went on last year - a group of young idealists looking for a better tomorrow. They're willing to die in the name of a future. They're extremely passionate and exuberant. There are protests, except, you know, they're all sung.
Yes, it's all sung. Les Miserables is two hours and forty minutes of song. There's no real spoken dialogue the entire way through. Every minute is sung live as well. And if this bothers you, please skip "Les Mis" and enjoy watching something like "Twilight" or "Jack Reacher". Tom Hooper made this film a game-changer for the way a movie-musical is supposed to work. Lip-synching a pre-recorded studio version seems economical, but today, can allow for auto-tuning and editing a singer's voice. It doesn't feel personal. The voices in "Les Mis" sound raw and real. The actors sang live onset with earpieces playing piano accompaniment, with a 70-piece orchestra being added in in post production. The music sounds extraordinary. There sure as hell isn't any auto-tuning going on.
For example, take Anne Hathaway's rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream". At this point in the story, we don't know Fantine very well, but we see the struggle that she's put through. She's at her lowest point. Hathaway half-belts and half-sobs the iconic song, the entire thing being filmed in one take. It's an extremely emotional performance that will bring any person with a heart, to tears.
Criticism that I've been hearing of the film mostly revolves around the performances of Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman, as Javert and Valjean. I think both of these guys did fantastic jobs, quite frankly. Crowe isn't the best singer in the world, but his voice fits the part of Javert very well. As for Jackman, well, it could be argued that he carried the entire film. I think he did a splendid job; the role of Jean Valjean is a giant undertaking, and I think he nailed it.
However, the real excellence of this film lies in the supporting cast. Everybody is perfectly cast, but particularly Samantha Barks in the role of Eponine. She played the same character in the 25th Anniversary performance of Les Miserables, only two years ago. One small criticism; my favorite part of Eponine's solo (and theme song to self-loathing masochists everywhere) "On My Own", the beginning part, is cut entirely. However, once you see what Barks does with this song it's easily forgiven.
Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen, who look like they're in "Sweeney Todd 2", are great comic relief as the Thenardiers. Cohen is the only cast member in this Paris-set film who sings in a French accent, however... I find that strange. Eddie Redmayne and Aaron Tveit are perfect as Marius and his colleague Enjolras. Redmayne's "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables", near the end of the film, will make you cry. His voice goes to extraordinary places, and in such an emotional number, where he's telling the story of his friends who are no longer with him, this is a place where the live singing truly shines.
The live singing, itself, is a huge undertaking, cinematically. Director Tom Hooper certainly had alot at stake with this project, however, there are still things that he could have done better. There are so many close-ups in the film. While they work for solos like "I Dreamed A Dream" and "Empty Chairs", they don't work for others. I also kind of feel like Hooper used the fish-eye camera lens a little too often, but these are inconsequential criticisms that don't make the film any less powerful.
I hate it when people applaud in a movie theater. I find it trite and kind of pointless, unless you're at the world premiere of the movie, with the director and actors present. However, I'm not ashamed to say that "Les Miserables" brought me to tears no less than five times. I was completely enthralled by each actor's performance, and the applause that the entire theater gave at the end was completely appropriate and well-deserved. I wanted to watch it again the minute it ended, and for a nearly three hour long film, I think that's a pretty high compliment. Don't miss it.
106 of 119 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2013
I'm French and I've just seen the movie (which came out last week here). I wasn't sure I still wanted to see it after reading the terrible reviews it'd been given in France (sorry!) but I'd been so seduced by the trailer and Hathaway's voice that I went anyway and I simply loved it. I haven't read the book (I've just started actually: 60 pages out of 1600... hum) but I understand why people here find the movie rather bad: it's not exactly as "social" as Hugo wrote it. The movie concentrates on the "romantic" side rather than on the criticism of the society and the historical context of the time. Yet I was completely taken. I loved the songs (I didn't know the musical), I'm a big fan of Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman and was completely delighted by their acting. I cried as I hadn't cried in a long time in a theatre and wanted only one thing when the film was over: see it again! The only negative thing in my opinion was the singing and acting of Russell Crowe. I didn't like his voice and really thought that he couldn't act and sing at the same time. There was no emotion on his face. But still: it's a great movie! Only one piece of advice to you all: read the book!!! I know it's a very biiiiiig one but it's a French masterpiece by one of the best French writers! :-)
209 of 242 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2012
I saw this movie a week before it came out because I won advance screening tickets and I have known the song I Dreamed A Dream my whole life but I have never seen the musical on stage or any of the adaptations before. I went into this with no expectations at all. At first I thought the movie started off kind of fragmented and I figured because it had to introduce everybody and I was right. The film ended up as it went on drawing me in more and more and making me fall in love with it and by the end i was mesmerized with how wonderful and amazing the movie is. I believe they picked perfect roles because after i saw the movie i listened to the broadway soundtrack and i believe they did very well on picking out the cast for their vocal ranges and capabilities. I think anyone who loves the musical or is a musical person should definatly see this movie because they will not be disappointed one bit by how amazing it is.
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2013
A couple of years ago, my wife and I saw the musical live. While I liked it, I had a hard time following the plot from the cheap seats and regretted not shelling out $25 more per ticket for better spaces. I found it hard to follow and was frustrated because all I had ever heard was how great a story it was.
This time, overall, I was very impressed. Apparently, the singing for musicals is traditionally recorded in studio months or weeks before shooting begins. Then, while the movie is being shot, the actors/actresses simply act out their scenes while lip-synching the songs. This time around, director Tom Hooper (big fan, more on him below) decided to switch things up and record the songs live while the scenes were being shot. The working theory was this would sacrifice some of the music quality but greatly enhance the dramatic effect. Great decision.
Did some the singing suffer as a result? Undoubtedly. I am sure a recording studio track would have sounded much more proficient and pretty. In particular, a couple of Russell Crowe solos seemed to stretch his voice to the limit. The singing certainly doesn't approach the soaring heights of the Les Miserables: The 25th Anniversary Concert [Blu-ray] recorded in 2010. But, in the movie, the emotions were raw and the characters vulnerable throughout. In short, the acting was simply superb.
The entire cast turned in great, emotionally-driven performances. Hugh Jackman was surprisingly powerful as Jean Valjean and more than ready for such a leading role. Anne Hathaway was gut-wrenchingly sorrowful as Fantine. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were terrifically scummy as the Thenardiers. Samantha Barks probably stole the show in her unforgettable performance as Eponine. Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried (the weakest links) both turned in solid performances as Javert, the grim and determined law officer, and Cosettte, Jean Valjean's adopted daughter, respectively.
These performances were all under the watchful eye of Tom Hooper. Hooper, though far from a household name - for now - is proving to be one of Hollywood's most promising up-and-coming directors. He first received recognition for directing HBO's exceptional John Adams miniseries a few years back and his last time behind the camera was in 2010's The King's Speech. In short, there's not much Hooper oversees that isn't excellent. His decision to record the singing live as opposed to prerecording the tracks was not the only prescient decision he made.
Of course, the songs of Les Miserables are much more poignant when one is properly following the plot! For instance, now I understand that when Jean Valjean belts out, "Who am I? I'm Jean Valjean" he is making a profound and terribly difficult decision by coming out of hiding and accepting the consequences for his long ago actions. More lyrics from the same song:
If I speak, I am condemned.
If I stay silent, I am damned!
These lyrics let us peek into the internal struggle of Valjean as he wrestles with his decision to turn himself in or to let another unjustly suffer in his place. He knows that if he turns himself in, he will be condemned to a life in prison. Indeed, he is, in essence, trading his life of luxury for a life in prison. But he also knows it's the right thing to do; hence his feeling of damnation from God if he doesn't do what his consciences declares to him to be right.
Fantine's "I Dreamed a Dream" is a similarly powerful song about the naiveté of youth and the loss of innocence (mostly due to her premarital affair and subsequent unplanned pregnancy and birth of her daughter, Cosette).
He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came
And still I dream he'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
Now I am pretty sure I could have followed the plot in the movie even if I had not taken the time to read the book. My wife, who had the same trouble I did when we saw the musical, followed it much better this time around also and she has not had the benefit of reading Hugo's tome. The quick timelines appearing as text on the screen alone helped immensely. So I think it's safe to see the movie without already being familiar with the storyline. Of course, it could just be that my wife and I have had the benefit of seeing it twice.
Hooper's rendition of the famous musical is simply superb; one of the best musical big screen adaptations in decades, in my humble opinion. Indeed, I think the movie might even resurrect the genre to a certain degree. It certainly has mainstream viability and the ability to capture fans, like me, that don't normally see these types of movies. I heartily recommend seeing the movie. It certainly deserves any and all of the attention and critical acclaim it receives this award season.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
I've watched theater productions of Les Mis, watched screen adaptations, and read the book several times over, and this cinematic adaptation ranks highly on my list of adaptations. As a musical film, it is well put-together, utilizing a stellar cast who delivers compelling performances in both acting and singing, excellent set-up of scenes, credible costumes and sets making the period and setting of 19th century France come alive, and spectacular effects.
I read some critical reviews which found the singing of the cast members to be less than impressive. I agree only with regards to three characters - Russell Crowe's Inspector Javert, and Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the Thenardiers. Crowe's emoting as Javert was well done with his facial expressions credibly portraying his resolute nature and steadfast obsession in hunting Jean Valjean, but his singing just wasn't up to par although to be fair some of his songs were incredibly difficult. I felt an actor who had more of an established singing
background would have fared much better in this role. The Thenardiers' portrayal did not sit well with me either - Cohen's and Helena Bonham Carter's singing performances were just plain awful.
Now that I've got the criticisms out of the way, let me comment on the positives. Hugh Jackman blew me away with his performance - I avoided comparing his performance to the Broadway productions because they are two entirely different mediums. These actors had to sing live on set and Jackman's background in singing with his strong, commanding voice as well as his experience as an actor really served him well in the challenging role of lead character Jean Valjean. There were scenes where Valjean displays his inner conflict - the beginning when he is railing against the injustice of his imprisonment, the scene where he is praying and reflecting on the priest's kindness to him and how he experiences this epiphany of how to transform his life, later still when he has embraced a new identity and is prospering as the Mayor of a city and his turmoil when he finds Javert has been dispatched to work in his city, so much more, and all done with impeccable finesse. Even when his voice at times breaks during a performance, I found it compelling because this is how one would expect it to be in real life - emotions impacting one's voice (not that people go through life singing their emotions out all the time). It was heartbreaking, 'real', and did not feel put on at all. Jackman delivers an Oscar worthy performance and I hope he gets it.
Fantine as portrayed by the beautiful and talented Anne Hathaway (I grew from a non-fan to a fan - starting from The Devil Wears Prada to the latest Batman and this) just broke my heart. That one song, "I Dreamed A Dream" was so achingly poignant and full of despair - this is a woman brought so low by life's circumstances and filled with despair - as I watched Fantine sing, I could only think, "God, this is how I imagined Fantine when I read the book," so really, what more could be said. Hathaway embodies Fantine - her hopes, dashed dreams, and her despair with heartbreaking clarity.
Amanda Seyfried as Cossette was lovely but I would not go so far as to say it was a spectacular performance but my, what a revelation Eddie Redmayne was as Marius. I've been a bit of a fan after watching him in My Week With Marilyn, and he is amazing here as the young revolutionary who is besotted with Cossette. His voice is compelling and his yearning and aching love for Cossette is credibly conveyed by his voice in song.
Eponine as played by Samantha Barks was another favorite character who also broke my heart. Her songs, delivered with such sadness and yearning, and those haunting eyes just tugged at the heartstrings. The young actor who plays Gavroche, Daniel Huttlestone, the street urchin and young revolutionary in the making delivered a performance that is memorable for its sincerity and spiritedness.
Though the movie is rather long in length at slightly over two and a half hours, I did not feel like the movie dragged at all. Each scene was carefully set up and orchestrated and the songs and dialogue all came together beautifully. When I heard that famous line, "To love someone is to see the face of God", I wept because that scene to me at least embodied what Hugo's work was all about. This is a beautiful cinematic masterpiece and I feel richer for having watched it.
31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2013
**WARNING: This review may get rather long. I have a ton of thoughts about this movie, after seeing the stage show so many times. So this may just be me rambling. Also...
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! EVERYWHERE!
My review for the higlights CD was less than glowing. However, I can say happily that the CD is a very, very, very, very poor reflection of the movie itself. Ignore the highlights CD. Forget about it. It doesn't do this movie justice. Because while it's far from perfect, I'm can happily say that it is the Les Mis movie musical.
HUGH JACKMAN (Jean Valjean)--8/10 Aside from Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman's been getting quite a bit of flack for his Valjean. To be honest, I don't see it. Acting-wise, Jackman is awesome and embodies Valjean. I agree with those who have said he carries the movie. However, singing-wise he was occasionally lacking. He had a habit of speak-singing a LOT. As many have said, his "Bring Him Home" wasn't exactly stellar and was somewhat disappointing (but not terrible.) So, Hugh Jackman makes for a really good Valjean, with a few vocal flaws that make him a little less than perfect.
RUSSELL CROWE (Javert)--7/10 Perhaps the most controversial member of the cast! Personally, I don't think he was that awful. Was he the best Javert ever? No. Do I feel they could have gotten someone better? Yes. However, his voice really isn't that bad. It's off-putting at first, but you get used to it, and once you do, he's decent. His acting made up for his singing. What makes his Javert nice is his more subtle moments (there were little moments in Fantine's arrest and the barricade scenes I really liked.) So, he really isn't that bad. By no means is he amazing, but he's not godawful.
ANNE HATHAWAY (Fantine)--9/10 Methinks she was born to play Fantine. First of all, holy CRAP, does Hathaway have pipes. I had no idea she could sing like that. Her Fantine is much more fragile than Fantines in the stage productions I've seen (which makes sense.) She's not a belty Fantine. But although her voice isn't Broadway powerful, you can hear the vocal power underlying in her voice. Her acting is amazing. If she doesn't break your heart, you have no soul. (Her delivery of "Come, Cosette. My child, where did you go?" Ahhh! Tears!)
SACHA BARON COHEN AND HELENA BONHAM CARTER (Thenardier and Mme. Thenardier)-- 6/10 They were fine as the Thenardiers. I didn't feel they were anything spectacular, but they weren't bad. Their "Master of the House" felt a bit off for me. On one hand, it was much toned down for the stage version, but at the same time, it still felt to gaudy for this movie (although this may have to do more with direction than the actors themselves.) So, like I said, fine, serviceable, but nothing truly special.
AMANDA SEYFRIED (Cosette)--5/10 Yeah, she just didn't work for me. Personally, I thought she was worse that Crowe. While I definitely think she has the looks to play Cosette (and her costumes were awesome), she doesn't have a very strong voice. It was shrill and her vibrata was insane. I will say though, she was rather heartbrekaing in the epilogue at Valjean's death.
EDDIE REDMAYNE (Marius)--9/10 Like Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne appears to have been born to play Marius. He's got an AMAZING voice, he's attractive (at least, I think so). He also seems to give more depth to Marius's character. His acting, his facial expressions, all add so much more to Marius. His "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" was just...there are no words. I will say that his "jawbrato" got a little distracting. There's nothing really wrong with this, per se, and it may have been more distracting because of all the close-ups. But, hey, I can deal with the jawbrato because Eddie Redmayne is perfection personified.
SAMANTHA BARKS (Eponine)--9/10 Vocally, she's awesome. Her voice is more toned down from her theatre days, but it's still amazing. She plays a more fragile Eponine, who's not the more street-smart, tough Eponine we see in a lot of stage productions. This isn't to say she's weak. Her Eponine has some fight in her, she's just more subtle. Her part seemed quite reduced though, which isn't really her fault, of course. It just would have been nice to see her more.
AARON TVEIT (Enjolras)--9/10 Like Samantha Barks, Tveit plays a more subdued version of his character. When I first listened to the recording, I was a tad off-put by how...weak Enjolras seemed. I'VE NEVER BEEN MORE WRONG IN MY LIFE! Aaron Tveit has an awesome voice and has a commanding prescence as Enjolras. You almost want more screen time from him.
ISABELLE ALLEN and DANIEL HUTTLESTONE (Young Cosette and Gavroche, respectively)--8/10 I was surprisingly impressed with both. Usually, young Cosette and Gavroche are played by terrible singers. But both were freaking adorable. I loved Isabelle Allen, so adorable. Daniel Huttlestone made for a good Gavroche, with plenty of spunk and pluckyness. However, his accent felt a bit forced. (Or maybe it's real. I don't know, I was sort of hoping they'd get rid of the Cockney-accent-straight-from-Oliver-Twist Gavroche and just make him sound like veryone else.)
THOUGHTS ON THE CUTS/ADDITIONS/LYRIC CHANGES
Being a fan of the musical, I know the libretto pretty well. So I was interested to see what cuts/changes/additions would be made. There were a few changes/cuts I really didn't like. These include:
*CUTS FROM "ON MY OWN" AND "A LITTLE FALL OF RAIN": Probably due to time. I'm not completely anguished over these cuts (since, if we're being totally honest, Eponine's not the most important character in the first place). But it would have been nice to see Samantha Barks a little more.
*CUTS FROM FANTINE'S ARREST: The part that suffers most is the fight between Fantine and Bamatabois. It goes from "Here's something new...the usual price for just one slice of your pie" to "No, no, m'sieur..." to "You've got some nerve..." and then Fantine attacks him. A lot of the lines were cut, including Fantine's "I'll kill you, you bastard, try any of that!" Again, not to broken up about these cuts, as it helped with time (and I feel like the "I'll kill you" would have seemed a bit awkward coming from a very weak looking Fantine.) However,e the cuts made the fight seem much, much shorter and if you blink, you might miss all of it. ;)
*CUTS FROM "DRINK WITH ME": This is the last song the students sing together and it has some really good lines in it (Grantaire's verse, especially.) But a lot of it was cut, which was unfortunate, since it was a really good song. It's still there, just not the whole thing.
*CUTS FROM "EVERY DAY": I don't know why they cut Marius's "Every day, I wonder who it was that brought me from the barricade" as it makes it appear Marius all ready knows who saves him, which then makes Thenardier's whole thing at the wedding seem rather odd. So a little plot hole there.
*CUTS FROM "THE CONFRONTATION": Valjean loses a chunk during the Valjean/Javert harmony, so it's just Javert singing, "I was born inside a jail..." They also cut everything from "And this I swear to you tonight" on, which made me sad, especially since it sounded like it was going to be very sad in the script. (Valjean was scripted to be singing to Fantine's dead body as it is flung into a wagon to be buried in the cemetery.)
*CUTS FROM "THE ATTACK ON RUE PLUMET": This cut annoyed me the most. It just seemed so jumpy! Not to mention it sort of creates a little bit of a plot hole. It jumps from Eponine screaming to Valjean hearing it, instantly assuming it's Javert, and deciding to pack up. That's it. He doesn't even interact with Cosette, whose lines there sort of finalize his decision to leave. In the movie, it makes it look like Valjean is just leaving because he heard Cosette scream at who knows what.
The cut I did like was reducing the length of "Turning." It's always been such a filler song to come before "Empty Chairs." (And it was only written so the women ensemble had more to do than be prostitutes.) So, it was nice to see most of that gone.
And, I know some of you will stone me for saying this, but I didn't mind that "Dog Eats Dog" was cut. For one, it really would have slogged the movie's pacing at that point. The way the movie sets it up, you're invested in Marius and Valjean. You probably don't want to hear about Thenardier robbing corpses. So it helped tighten up the pacing. Also, the sewers in the movie are NASTY, so I don't really think I would want to see Thenardier singing a three minute solo in poop.
I did like the additional interactions between Valjean and Javert in Montreuil-sur-Mer. It added more depth to Javert's character (like when he asks to be relieved of his position.) Also, these new additions gave us more reason as to why Valjean just sort of turned his back on Fantine at the factory. So, I liked the added lyrics.
As for lyric changes, most of them I didn't like. For example:
"And the plague is coming on fast, ready to kill!" Why did that need to be changed? "Winter" was fine. In fact, it made more sense when the lyrics earlier were "At the end of the day you're another day colder and the shirt on your back doesn't keep out the chill." "Plague" just sounded sort of silly. This is the 1820s, not the Dark Ages.
"Follow to the letter your itinerary! This badge of shame you wear until you die." The lines just felt awkward. The other lyrics in the stage version were fine, although I did like the "It warns you're a dangerous man" in the movie.
The lyric change I have mixed feelings for is; "It's a story of one who turned form hating. A man who only learned to love when you were in his keeping." I actually like this line a lot, as I think it's just something really sweet for Valjean to say to Cosette. However, the original lines from the stage musicl are, "It's a story of those who always loved you. Your mother gave her life for you, then gave you to my keeping." It's a sort of pivotal, if you will, scene in the musical (and book) where Cosette finally learns of her mother, so it was disappointing to see that cut.
And the lyric change I love is "Would you weep, Cosette, if I were to fall?" Not because it's anything stellar or beautiful, but it makes so much more sense. In the musical is, "Would you weep, Cosette, should Marius fall?" It sounds really dumb. I mean, why is Marius talking in third person about himself anyway?
THOUGHTS ON THE SONGS/HOW THEY WERE DONE
For the most part, I liked the way everything transitioned to the screen. The new placements of "I Dreamed a Dream" and "Stars" work so much better, in my opinion. IDAD is that much more tragic. Stars makes more sense there, as he's just lost Valjean, and in the stage play, I feel like "Stars" coming between "Look Down" and "Red and Black" sort of interrupts the flow. However, I have mixed feelings for "On My Own" getting moved. It makes sense as it probably would have been awkward during the barricade scenes. It would have changed the mood midway through. However, I feel like "On My Own" being right before "A Little Fall of Rain" works much better, as we've been with Eponine longer and she's finalyl letting it all out. Earlier, we feel pity for her, but not as much. Not to mention that in the new movie placement, it's right after the Rue Plumet robbery, where Valjean decides to leave for England, which is a pretty big moment and then...oh, we're listening to Eponine talk about her love life. Mmkay.
I liked how a lot of the songs looked in the movie.
"Lovely Ladies" looked sort of like something out of a horror movie, but I think it helped emphasize the sort of hell the prostitutes are living in. It was very toned down and sort of sexless (or at least as sexless as a song about prostitutes can be), which I like a lot. I feel as though "Lovely Ladies" should focus more on Fantine's fall and the horrible life the prostitues live, as opposed to being overly raunchy and gaudy, like it is in the stage production, for the purpose of just being raunchy.
"Come to Me" was beautifully tragic, with Fantine hallucinating of Cosette. *weeps over keyboard*
"The Confrontation" looked way more epic on screen. It's a cool song in the musical, but it can sometimes be ruined by the cheesy stage fighting. Here, it looks awesome. Javert has a sword! Valjean has a...stick of wood he ripped off a wall! Valjean makes his escape by jumping out of a door into a river! Yay! Cool!
"Chain Gang/Work Song" looked awesome, with the men pulling in the giant ship. Much better than the staging of "mime tools."
Loved how the finale turned out, when Valjean died. The church, the bishop, ahh! Beautiful!
Anyway, to sum this rambling review up, Les Miserables is a semi-flawed, but overall excellent adaptation of the musical that should please most fans.
33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2012
I think it's safe to say that waiting for this film was pretty agonizing, both for director Tom Hooper's recent successes in The King's Speech and the John Adams mini-series, for for the renown that this book/play/film has accumulated ever since Victor Hugo penned it, and for the well-known cast that has shown a different talent through viral trailers.
Because I don't know the full history of film adaptions, I won't be delving into the comparisons with such, but the history of the London (Queen's Theatre) play has been on the mind, since I took a trip there this spring to watch it performed live. It was an unforgettable experience, and while this adaption had a few pitfalls, it came close to that in many ways.
An inescapable topic is the singing. In the first scene, Crowe (Javert) and Jackman (Valjean) moved the words into odd tempos, and their voices sounded a bit shallow (Crowe's in particular). With the exception of a great (if short) sequence, "A Work", it was a poor opening on the musical front, and they tried to erase it from our memory by quickly distracting us with landscape shots. After that, both Crowe and Jackman got louder, bolder, and much more appreciable. Anne Hathaway as Fantine was amazing. She provided one of the three best song performances in "I Dreamed A Dream", which was very heartbreaking and hardening. Next up comes Young Cosette, who did very well with "Castle on a Cloud," and made viewers sorry that they didn't hear more from her. Helena Bonham Carter did respectably, I suppose, but Sacha Baron Cohen's not a singer, and "Master of the House" had to rely solely on the acting and humor. The real disappointment, though, was Amanda Seyfried (Cosette), in my opinion. While her voice may be very good in other circumstances, her shallow trill didn't do justice to the opera-level voices that Les Mis has seen in the past. Instead, I favored Samantha Barks (Éponine) in every way, including acting. Her "On My Own" was possibly my favorite song from the whole film, and definitely making the top three. Finally, there is Eddie Redmayne (Marius). He is definitely a talented actor I will be watching for. And, he's a marvelous singer, too! Very down to earth, and very loud and bold when he ought to be. His "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" also makes the top 3.
As usual, there were some problems I had with the edits. Here and there, lyrics were changed, removed, and even added, which disappointed me. The worst part, I think, is when they cut nearly the entirety of "Turning" after uttering only a few lines. I can only hope it will come out complete in the extended version.
**SPOILER ALERT** As my final point, for the whole movie, I'd been wondering how Hooper would portray Javert's suicide. I think he did it very well, and it was my favorite scene in the entire movie, for Crowe's great performance in it, the allusion from earlier in the film, the great scope and imager, and for Crowe's final song, in which he brings his best to the table. I had no idea he was as great a singer as he was at his character's final moments. **END SPOILER**
I would not suggest this movie for kids under 13, because they simply wouldn't understand a lot of the underlying themes that make this movie really important. Also, there is some suggestive, inappropriate material after Fontine is removed from the factory and resorts to the docks.
In conclusion, this is a large-scale, impressive adaption that is definitely worth seeing as soon as you can manage, even if you aren't a big fan of musicals.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2013
Here's my first thoughts, kind of a review about the movie:
Masterpiece, well I must say that the whole story is marvelous. Victor Hugo was a genius
and even when you think you know everything about it, there's always some sort of aspect you
discover and this is because of how deep and profound the meaning and message of this novel.
Back to the movie.... Overall very very good, I'm sure it'll get tons of awards, it is already getting them.
Obviously, as a theater geek, I prefer West End or Broadway BUT I must say I was waiting for something like
this to watch on the big screen, and in the couch of your living room.
The movie seems like a different view of it and it's very captivating.
For sure the special effects and visual aspect of the first scenes are of very high level.
Hugh Jackman starts introducing us Jean Valjean on very intense way and his performance is amazing. You can tell
there was a work of introspection and study of the character... And you can see in his eyes the internal conflict JVJ has all the time since he's on parole.
Montreuil-Sur-Mer was impressive, feels like you could taste how it was for people living back then. The lovely ladies scene was pretty rough, by this I mean crude. But it created the atmosphere to make "I dreamed a dream" an Oscar-winning-scene.
Passing to Cosette and the Thénardier's... I seemed to like a lot Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen but..... in the end i felt like something was missing.
Master of the house could have been a bit funnier.... I guess it was just a sophisticated version of the Thénardier's.
Suddenly, was very moving. Great job, seriously they should consider it too for the theatrical version.
Paris, stunning!!! Gavroche gets you so much. I loved the scene where he sings to the bourgeois man in the coach.
Enjorlas and the students, all awe-inspiring full of energy and motivation.
What can I say about Samantha Barks, she did a great job playing WestEnd Les Mis and she did was super in the cinema as well. Very touching On My Own. (Didn't get all those changes in the order of the songs.... naaah... don't do this to us... you just can take and mix everything up)
Nevertheless "A little fall of rain" was hair-rising. Eddie Redmayne where have you been all this time. Great Job.
Now let me tell you this.... General Lamarque's funeral and how they sang "Do you hear the people sing", gave me goosebumps. I really liked it.
One Day More, I'd rather have them all together singing in one place. But it was nice.
What could I say about Russel Crowe, I guess we can forgive his performance in Stars taking into account all of the rest. Overall good.
I thought it was suggestive when he leaves his medal into Gavroche dead body.
The battles were nice, but short. I read somewhere they shortened them, that's a shame. Well I guess that for someone who's not mad about this show, 15 minutes would be too much. Bring him home nice, and everything that followed.
I would now like to stop at "Empty chairs at empty tables" I was expecting to see the student's ghosts....
The end of the movie was ok. Pretty accurate and not in a "rushy" way which is good that they took care even of the last minutes... Well you know they might have said wow it's been two and a half hours people are sitting there let's hurry up a little.
The last scene, with the barricade and the reprise of "Do you hear the people sing" ASTONISHING!
You might not think about it but applause at the end of each number mean a lot! Crowd gives that energy and that pause between one number and the other that I consider vital.
This is a great story, novel, show and movie. Nothing else can be said.
I def. can't wait for the DVD to be released.
"Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes... "
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
AGAIN, the musical of a decade. This is the Les Mis crème de la crème. It has revolutionary action; heart felt romance; faith-forgiveness-retribution; aesthetic musical. Hugh Jackman as John Valjean, convict 24601, looks the ferocious revolutionary facially; sings fiercefully, romantically, and beautifully; and deserves his Oscar nomination. As does this film. My vote has changed from Spielberg's "Lincoln" to "Les Mis" after one viewing. I WILL go back, I will buy the DVD.
Les Mis is a musical, it's about music, arguably the best ever written for the stage. This film version of the 18th century French chronicle has raised the bar for film musicals. This well known story and theatre hit has been upgraded via film. It takes the best of what theatre has to offer and adds close-up, a mega cast, and music perfection that makes this film-musical ever more magical.
Close-ups allow the stunning singers to add powerful facial emotion to the well-known Les Mis lyrics, right down to nasal hairs, warts, moles, freckles on a comrade, tears flowing into snot, and the sweat of love. Fantine (Oscar nominated Anne Hathaway) is stellar in song, but I'd give an Oscar to her daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried- `Mama Mia!') with her voice, body, face, and acting performance.
I didn't know Russell Crowe [Javert] could sing, and do it well, too.
The young lad on the barricade, Gavroch, was Daniel Huttlestone in his first film role, but surely not his last. He also played Gavroch in Queen's Theatre performances. What a voice.
Costumes & sets are spectacles all their own. You almost smell the 1700s.
Les Mis theme comes from one of it's songs, "To love another person is to see the face of God."
But the film ended and I had to leave, c'est la vie.
IT'S THE FIRST TIME I HAVE EVER GIVEN ROLLING CREDITS ON A SCREEN A STANDING OVATION.
The film was as alive as the theatre stage. A tour de force. C'est magnifique!