Thursday, March 7, 2013

Movie Review - Les Miserables by Tom Hooper!

Happy Thursday!

Last Saturday I finally saw Les Miserables! Here is my review.


Title: Les Miserables
Director: Tom Hooper
Screenplay: William Nicholson, Herbert Kretzmer, Alain Boublil (stagemusical) and Claude-Michel Schönberg (stagemusical)
Based on: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Production: Universal Pictures, Relativity Media, Working Title Films, Cameron Mackintosh Ltd.
Genre: Drama, Musical, Historical, Romance
Length: 158 minutes
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried,Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, Daniel Huttlestone

Summary:

Novel: Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean - the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread - Les Misérables (1862) ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them onto the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose. Within his dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Inspector Javert, the desperation of the prostitute Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Misérables gave Victor Hugo a canvas upon which he portrayed his criticism of the French political and judicial systems, but the portrait which resulted is larger than life, epic in scope - an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses even as it touches the heart.

Movie: In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine's daughter, Cosette. The fateful decision changes their lives forever.

My review:

Let me warn you, that this review will be longer than my usual reviews and that means, it’s very long! J It is also slightly different in its structure. Or should I say, there would not be no structure at all? I’ll start with casting and end with the story itself. Besides that, it’s a musical after all and that means you’ll hear the music, too!
For the background information, I have read Victor Hugo’s novel and also seen different musical productions, one made in London, on West End and the other in Copenhagen and third here, in Estonia. It does not matter, if I want it or not, there is a moment of comparison in the background.
Les Miserables by Tom Hooper is the best version of all Les Miserables I have seen, either on stage or on the screen! Period! And here is why:

Casting!

Casting is the key word. Les Miserables contains many talented actors who can actually sing, I mean seriously sing.
Hugh Jackman was probably the biggest surprise in this movie, because I had no idea, that he is such a talented singer! Of course, if I would have done my research prior to the movie, I would have known that. Well, I did not and I was literally awed by him. It’s sometimes difficult for even the most talented actors to show emotions, but imagine showing your emotions, thoughts and actions while singing! It’s the work of art and Hugh Jackman did exactly that! It was like watching the art of highest quality: both his singing and acting were nothing less than brilliant! His Jean Valjean showed emotions, heartbreak, doubt, pain, love, fright, belief, redemption – all in one! And what was the best part of it – I felt all that, too! I believed it! His acting and singing were both equally very professional and it totally blew my feet away, I was sold during the opening scenes of the movie. He was the best possible Jean Valjean to the role.

Anne Hathaway had a smaller supportive role in the movie, but what a powerful performance it was! She made me cry with her as Fantine. She was so exceptionally fragile and yet, she was the one who made me break my promise to myself, that I WILL not cry during the movie. I decided prior to the movie, that I have seen it, I have read it and I have heard it – no crying! And then came Anne Hathaway, a small woman with the big voice and beautiful hurting eyes as Fantine and I was gone to the no-mercy-here kind of tears. The essence of Fantine mirrored from Anne Hathaway like she really were Fantine. She deserved that Oscar for her role! I loved every minute of the movie when Fantine was on the screen.

Russell Crowe as Javert was probably the actor I had the biggest mixed feelings about. His singing was great! He really has not only a good voice, but also a strong voice. But I was little disappointed about the acting part. I never thought I would say this about Russell Crowe, because I have always admired him as an actor, but Javert was flat! I did not see the fire, the vengeance, the fierceness, the tragic what Javert should have. Russell Crowe did OK as Javert, but since the rest of the cast was so eminent and powerful, Russell Crowe just disappeared between them. And that was a pity because the relationship, the hunt between Javert and Jean Valjean is the most important part of the storyline.
 
Another excellent surprise was Samantha Barks as Eponine. What a great choice to the role! I was awed, how lovable and strong Barks’ Eponine was in the movie. I think it’s the first time for me seriously to realize, how beautifully and sacrificing Eponine acted; Samantha Barks showed that to me and that was a revelation!

 

I have not been the biggest fan of Sacha Baron previously, but he was awesome as Thenardier! Sacha Baron and Helena Bonham Carter gave the humour to this movie. Les Miserables is telling a dark journey, but both Thenardier and Bonham Carter’s Madame Thernardier managed to lighten up the otherwise heavy story. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing easy going about their characters as such, it was just the way they played their roles. There was a great chemistry between them!
Amanda Seyfried was just as sweet as a peach as Cosette. When she entered the screen for the first time, I hesitated a little. I wasn’t sure if she was the right Cosette or not. But boy, did she grow on me during the movie as the story folded! The final scenes where Cosette is seeing her father again after the wedding – I was in tears again. Of course, Hugh Jackman had his part in it, too!
Last, but not least, Eddie Redmayne as a young revolutionary Marius was fabulous! He had so much fire in him that it burnt from the beginning to the end. He was very passionate as Marius, both towards Cosette and the revolution!

Enough said about the cast!

Screenplay and directing:
I am putting these two things into one pot for Les Miserables, because it’s very difficult to split them. I would like to start with saying, that since the musical has been staged many times on many different theatres in the world, then the movie is heavily influenced by that. The music is already set and the screenwriters who have created the stage musical had a very big part in the movie musical as well. Just when you look at the credential list for the screenplay you know, that these guys have done it before.

Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is a novel heavily loaded with storylines, characters, descriptions, plot twists and history. I loved, that the movie was kept fairly close to the novel,but I loved even more that it was even closer to the stage musical!

I loved that there were scenes in the movie which were almost made as on the stage, for example the scenes on the barricades and on the pub where Cosette lived with the Thernardiers. The directing was awesome! The close-ups were combined with the mass scenes, so it was colorful and the pacing seemed in balance!

Tom Hooper did in my opinion a great and close work with the screenwriters, so the movie was similar to the musical and yet very original on its own way!

Dislikes:

Apart from the fact which I already mentioned, that I expected more fire in Javert (Russell Crowe), I don't have many other dislikes.

Generally:

The two plus hours in the darkness of the movie just flew by. It was an emotional journey with heartbreakingly beautiful and powerful music and with the story which just spells you. It was magical and I loved every minute of it!

5 Flowers!


5 stars!

Happy reading and movie watching!
Thank you Liis, for forcing me to go and see it!

 

2 comments:

  1. Great review. I was disappointed there were so many changes and cuts compared to the stage show (which I've seen around 25 times!) but I agree the casting was mostly good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Nicki!

      Thank you!
      I can understand what you are saying. It is different from the musical, but I think that's exactly the wonder of movies.
      25 times is pretty impressive!
      Thanks for coming by!

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