Les Misérables (2012)

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9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Good attempt to bring the big screen musical to the screen

Still a musical for those who don't like musicals, some miscasting, I found Eddie Redmayne distracting as Marius

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  Les Misérables

Studio:  Working Title Films

Genre(s):  Musical/Drama

Release Date(s):  December 7, 2011 (UK Premiere)/December 25, 2011 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

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Javert, I’m not the Valjean you’re looking for…come on Jedi mindtrick…work!!!

Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), prisoner #24601 is released from prison after nineteen years of captivity.  When he steals silver from a church, Valjean takes a vow to change his ways.  Becoming a mayor of a city and doggedly pursued by officer Javert (Russell Crowe), Jean Valjean inadvertently causes one of his employees named Fantine (Anne Hathaway) to be fired.  Left destroyed and destitute, Fantine finds herself forced to work upon the streets.  When Valjean exposes his true identity to amend his deed, Valjean flees to Paris with the daughter of Fantine named Cosette (Isabelle Allen).  As the years pass, Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) grows without knowledge of her past, but the past comes back to haunt Valjean with the return of Javert and Cosette’s guardians the Thénardiers (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter).  Things are further complicated when Cosette falls in love with a young rebel named Marius Pontmercy (Eddie Redmayne) who has an admirer in the Thénardiers’ daughter Eponine (Samantha Barks).  As the revolution approaches, can you real the people sing?

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So, my bad on that whole getting fired thing Fantine…

Directed by Tom Hooper, Les Misérables adapts the popular Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg 1985 musical based on the 1862 novel by Victor Hugo.  The movie was met with mostly positive reviews and was nominated for multiple awards and took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress (Hathaway), Best Sound Mixing, and Best Make-Up and Hair and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Jackman), Best Original Song (“Suddenly”), Best Production Design, and Best Costume Design.

I am a big fan of Les Misérables.  I have read the Hugo novel, seen other versions of the story, and seen the musical.  When the 1998 version was released, I kind of wonder why they didn’t just adapt the stage production (though musicals were out of favor at that time).  When it was decided to do the film version of the movie, I had to approach it with reservations and hope due to the density of the book and story.

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It isn’t often that comic relief is provided by child abusing people

The movie for the most part works out, but even like a stage version, there are weaknesses.  The book’s structure is notoriously difficult.  Often abridged, the 1000+ page novel has an opening that just lays out the history of France and leads to the priest (who in this film version is played by the original Broadway Jean Valjean Colm Wilkinson)…this causes a bit of disjointed story at the beginning of the film which doesn’t have much flow.  In addition to that, you have to adjust to fact that the movie is essentially an opera with all characters singing all the time.  With some minor changes to the musical (including a thankfully shortened “Little People” song sung by Gavroche played by Daniel Huttlestone is one of the victims…I just never thought it fit stylistically).

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Could we get any sappier Marius? Yes, let’s try!

The casting is quite good.  Hugh Jackman is known for stage and though not the best Jean Valjean, he does a strong job with it.  I’m normally not a Anne Hathaway fan but she does give a lot of dimension to Fantine and does a good job bringing the small role to life (which is weirdly boosted for marketing purposes).  The former Sweeney Todd costars Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen are fine as the Thénardiers, though I don’t feel they look the part necessarily, but they do provide some much needed comic relief for a rather heavy film.  I wasn’t too sure about Russell Crowe because I don’t see him as a singer and he was so-so and seemed much more comfortable when his character had more purpose than big songs.

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Oh Marius…I’m so much cooler than that stupid blonde Cosette…

I’ve never been a fan of the characters of Cosette or Marius.  They are a bit too fluffy for me and here I feel Eddie Redmayne as Marius was horrible.  The film approach went for a more natural feel (the audio was recorded during the filming instead of rerecorded later), and Redmayne seems like he’s doing a stage musical when everyone else is acting.  His expressions and singing are all overplayed, and I found it a bit distracting.  On the other hand, Samantha Barks was great as my favorite character Eponine and she did portray the character on stage before.

Les Misérables is a tough book and both the musical and this movie do a good job trying to bring the massive story to life and still make it meaningful.  The ending always felt a bit like it needed work.  I never liked Valjean randomly leaving, the Thenardier’s revelation that Valjean saved Marius (which never is stated by Marius that he didn’t know it was Valjean), and then Valjean writing down the story he asked Marius to promise not to tell Cosette…it doesn’t make much sense, but it still is a fun ride worth taking with an ending that can be a tearjerker for some.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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