Les Misérables (2012)






THE SCOOP
Director:  Tom Hooper
Cast:  Hugh JackmanRussell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Samantha Barks
Plot:  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.

Genre:  Drama / Musical / Romance

Awards:  Won 3 Oscars - Best Supporting Actress, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Sound Mixing. Nom. for 5 Oscars - Best Picture, Best Leading Actor, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Original Song.
Runtime:  157min
Rating:  NC16 for suggestive and sexual material, violence and thematic elements.

IN RETROSPECT

To love another person is to see the face of God.”

Victor Hugo wouldn't have known that in 1862 when he first published the novel ‘Les Misérables’, it would become a musical film 150 years later. That it would first reach popular acclaim via a West End/Broadway musical with a global fanbase of over 60 million people and then become a musical film.

Directed by Tom Hooper, who won an Oscar for Best Director for the inspirational period drama The King's Speech (2010), Les Misérables is a wonderful interpretation of a beloved classic. It is not a film adaptation of the novel, but a screen adaptation of the popular musical. What this all means is that fans will get to see their favourite characters sing their hearts out in close-up. 

You can watch a movie online like The King's Speech if you'd like to catch director Tom Hooper's previous Best Picture-winning film.

Everyone's ready for their close-ups. Well, maybe not Russell Crowe, but most certainly everyone else. Anne Hathaway, especially, gives a supporting performance of tremendous courage amid lost hope. She plays Fantine, and she sings 'I Dreamed a Dream' with so much genuine emotion that she probably has one hand on the Oscar.

Fantine is one of many characters that adorn this picture set in early 19th century France, where slavery and revolution are words mentioned in the same sentence. The main character is Jean Valjean, played by Hugh Jackman in solid form. He sets the story going and it never slows until the very end.

You may be surprised, but this is my first encounter of ‘Les Misérables’. So I am seeing this film with fresh eyes. I didn't know how the story would pan out. I didn't know the songs that would play out. I knew that the cast would be singing, but I didn't know that they would be singing for the entire film.

Every line is literally a lyric. For most parts, they are music to the ears. Occasionally, Crowe (playing Javert) struggles to emote while singing. Like I said, he might not have been ready for his close-up. In any case, through excellent editing, this 160-minute film breezes past rather quickly.

Hooper may have delivered a film that has created some Oscar buzz, but how it was made is even more impressive. The cast, even extras, did not lip-synch with their voices recorded in post-production. Instead, they sung live on set with live piano music accompaniment that is channeled individually to their ear pieces.

In this regard, Hooper's Les Misérables operates on a scale that is both technically and artistically challenging. The cinema screen also provides a more intimate lens for viewers to experience the story and its characters. Like I said, look at those extraordinary long-take close-ups. And get a tissue packet ready.

Verdict:  Grab a tissue as this is an intimate interpretation of a beloved classic with superb performances.

GRADE: A- (8.5/10 or 4 stars)






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