Here is my critique on the film adaptation of Les Misérables and answer the criticism some are making of the film. First of all it was by far better than the adaptation of Phantom of the Opera and was much better cast and the emotional resonance was so powerful it would require a stone cold heart for it not to affect you on some level. I don’t always tear up in movies, especially where my family is present with a penchant to tease, but this overwhelmed even the risk of some ribbing and the tears flowed freely throughout the movie. I don’t know why the music and themes affect me so much but they always have from the first time I heard the music and the many times I have seen the stage play.
This was an unbelievably difficult task by director Tom Hooper to adapt a stage musical to the screen and not make the movie seem like a stage musical itself but he did it beautifully while remaining faithful to the source material.
The vocals were not perfect but that was the point of the producers to have the actors sing as they acted rather than prerecord the music. It worked with the screen adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera because that music is supposed to be grandiose but with Les Miz the music is supposed to carry an emotional punch that would have been difficult with canned music and probably come across too polished and overly produced.
Hugh Jackman was excellent and gave the needed gravitas and emotional grounding of the movie and masterfully presented the themes such as anger, hate, forgiveness, pain, forgiveness, redemption, and saintliness and gave it a gripping realism. Jackman is Jean Valjean.
Anne Hathaway stole the show and if she does not win an Oscar for her portrayal of Fantine it will be the biggest Oscar travesty since Annie Hall beat out Star Wars for Best Picture. Her performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” carried the emotional weight of Susan Boyle on Britains Got Talent.
Samantha Barks made you root for her to get Marius and her rendition of “On My Own” was nearly as good and heart wrenching as Anne Hathaway’s I Dreamed a Dream.
The two Children who played the young Cossette and Gavroche were outstanding. Some complain about giving Gavroche a Cockney accent but of all the times I have watched the stage version he had a strong British accent and it was probably by design. It is not unusual for Hollywood to give the French British accents. The Gavroche character reminded me a lot of the Artful Dodger in Oliver.
As for the Thénardiers I thought they were perfectly cast and gave the movie its much needed comedy relief. I can’t think of anyone else who fit the roles better than Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter. It appeared to me the director gave them a lot of leeway.
Russel Crowe did much better than I thought he would so he exceeded my expectations. He brought to the part a coldness but also demonstrated the internal conflict Javert felt when Jean Valjean defied his skeptical view of redemption and his absolutist view of justice.
This is one of those few movies I will be able to see over and over again and never tire of it. Once it is out on Blueray it will be a permanent part of my movie collection up there with my favorites such as The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars (originals), Harry Potter and the Hobbit Movies.