By Georgina Baker
It’s the most anticipated film of the year, maybe even the decade. It’s the film everyone has been waiting for, and my gosh, didn’t they do well. With it’s all-star A-List cast, whether you’re a die-hard fan of the musical theatre show or new to the whole story, Tom Hooper’s cinematic recreation of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel Les Miserables is sure to get the emotions flowing, heart racing, and the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up.
For those of you who have not seen the theatre production before the story begins in 1815 telling the story of Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who becomes wealthy after breaking his parole. With his past discovered, Valjean agrees to take care of the daughter of the dying Fantine, but as a fugitive he must avoid being caught by police inspector Javert. The plot spans over 17 years and is set against the backdrop of political turmoil in France.
It’s a story of tragedy, heartache and misery, but also triumph, success and love. Many films adapted from musicals are often criticised and disregarded, but Les Miserables seems to have even shut the critics up this time, proving its success and brilliance. It’s guaranteed to have you crying like a baby with tears of joy and sadness.
The length of the film was a worry to me at first. Two and a half hours is a long time to sit in a dark room on uncomfortable cinema chair. But Les Mis succeeds in captivating you and not allowing you to get bored. It moves so speedily and naturally along, although not missing anything or feeling rushed, you don’t even realise the time you’ve been sat down.
Of course, the music of the film cannot go unmentioned. Every word of the film is sung and at first I thought I would be desperate for a simple spoken word but every scene is performed so astonishingly well it is easy to forgive them. Following a brave choice by Hooper, that could have easily backfired, each song was sung live as the cameras rolled, but this seems to add intensity, colour and emotional depth within the scenes. In particular Hugh Jackman surprises everyone. Perhaps even himself. He gives an excellent vocal performance throughout as Jean Valjean and who knew Wolverine could sing? Russell Crowe on the other hand as Javert, gives an arguably debatable performance that resembles tuneful yelling, but we’ll forgive him, as after all he is Russell Crowe, and it is fun to watch Wolverine and Gladiator fight whilst singing to each other.
Anne Hathaway, of course cannot be forgotten either, with perhaps the performance of her career as Fantine singing I Dreamed a Dream, reclaiming the song’s dignity that was once lost thanks to SuBo’s rendition back in 2009. Not only does Hathaway’s performance leave the audience shamefully sobbing or with a massive lump in their throat, but she is so convincing and emotional it leaves the audience in dire need and want to help the poor girl. Hathaway deserves every nomination and award she gets.
As a whole, the film is a massive success and compliment to the theatre show, Victor Hugo and Tom Hooper. There is not a moment in the film in which you wish it to hurry up or end, but Hugh Jackman is undoubtedly the star, with his raw performance and hidden talent for singing, his portrayal of Jean Valjean will remain with him his entire life, and rightly so.