A big-screen version of the much-loved stage musical Les Miserables was never going to be an easy task. The outsized emotionality and play-to-the-back-row bombast of the show, an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic, sprawling tale of revolution and redemption in 17th century France, seems better suited to the theatre than the cinema.
But that hasn’t stopped Oscar-winning King’s Speech director Tom Hooper and a game, passionate cast headed by Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe from giving it a red-hot go. There’s commitment and conviction to spare in the work of everyone involved but nuance and subtlety appear to have been secondary concerns.
Isn’t that always the way with musicals of this nature, though? Therefore adjust your expectations accordingly and there’s every chance you’ll be swept away by the saga of Jackman’s Jean Valjean, imprisoned nearly 20 years for stealing bread to feed his starving family, and his attempts to begin anew despite the doggedness of Crowe’s grudge-carrying lawman Javert. (For the record: Jackman’s musical-theatre background and natural air of sincerity and decency give the film a rock-solid foundation, while Crowe’s singing is capable but his brawny, intimidating presence works a treat.)
Of course, there’s also heartbreak (personified by Anne Hathaway’s Acclaimed Performance as the tragic Fantine, which left me impressed but not especially moved), comedy (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter, playing it broad as the scummy Thenardiers), love (between fresh-faced couple Cosette and Marius, played by sweet-voiced Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne) and courage (noble masses versus snooty one-percenters!). Something for everybody, really.
Oh, and this kid pictured below can piss right off.
LONGER REVIEW TO FOLLOW!