It’s been ages since I wrote a film review!
Last Sunday my family and I went to see the new film version of the legendary stage musical, Les Miserables.
The plot is somewhat difficult to explain as it jumps forward in time a few at least twice. The hero, particularly of the first half, is Jean Valjean, a convict who breaks parole and makes a new life for himself as mayor of a small town. There the meets Fantine, one of his employees turned prostitute after being sacked from his factory, and events take place which inform the rest of the story. The second half takes place in Paris some years later, where Fantine’s daughter Cosette meets and falls in love with a young radical student named Marius, who is part of a planned uprising.
The film cast largely well-known actors in the main parts. Valjean is played by Hugh Jackman, his nemesis Inspector Javert by Russell Crowe, and Fantine by Anne Hathaway, who just won an Oscar for her part. Eddie Redmayne plays Marius and Amanda Seyfried is Cossette. In addition, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham-Carter play devious innkeepers, the Thenardiers.
The cast are excellent, especially Anne Hathaway, whose Oscar was deserved. It was, I felt, the singing which let the film down. Much was made prior to it’s release of director Tom Hooper’s technique of having the actors perform the songs live on set, rather than miming along to pre-recorded tracks as is usual. For some characters, most notably Fantine and Samantha Barks’ Eponine, this works very well (I thought Barks, a film newbie but a with a few years stage musical experience, was excellent throughout). For others it is less successful.
Poor Russell Crowe took a pounding in many reviews for his singing, but I thought it was decent. Hugh Jackman, who has experience in musicals, was off-puttingly warbly to my ears much of the time, but had some excellent belted notes.
I found the main songs, especially those performed by many actors, such as ‘Look Down’ much better than the others. There were a few times when the actors just sang one or two lines which was disjointed and odd.
On the plus side, some of the visuals were excellent, especially in the barricade scenes in Paris.
Overall I enjoyed the film but I won’t be rushing to see it again.