At the brink of the French Revolution, Les Misérables follows Jean Valjean, a ex-prisoner who tries to better his name through the assisting of others who are hurting. Singing every lyric and song live, this musical was a revolution in itself for the genre and showcasing some astounding moments (Anne Hathaway, anyone?).
For what is most likely the most divided film of the year though, many loving it, many loathing it, I can see, at times, where both come from, but Les Mis‘ drama and tear-inducing story-lines won me over.
Hathaway, like said before, gave one of the greatest performances of the year. Although her total time doesn’t rack up very many minutes, she managed to intoxicate with her vulnerable portrayal of the fallen Fantine, forced to sell not just her possessions, but at times herself to give her daughter a better life. Every sang word from her would send chills up my arms and once one of the musicals most well known songs, “I Dreamed A Dream” began, it was impossible to not be enthralled with the one take scene of not only Hathaway’s decent voice, but her finest acting achievement to date.
Hugh Jackman surprises with his operatic sounding voice throughout the course of the 2 hour and 37 minute movie as well. His own performance held the grunge of his torn Valjean, and the composure of his Mayor status throughout. Even newcomer Samantha Barks, who reprised who role as Eponine, should be on her way to stardom, herself, for her role.
There were problems though. First, Russell Crowe. Sometimes his clearly untrained voice managed to pass as alright, but at times, his whiney tone could become annoying. Second, the cinematography. Throughout most of the songs, director, Hooper, seemed to have decided to hold the camera on close-ups for a good deal of the time. It worked perfectly for some scenes, like during “I Dreamed A Dream” and a scene with Eddie Redmayne later on, but at times it became distracting, which is the exact opposite of a close-up’s job.
Close-ups should be used sparingly in order to achieve the usefulness they hold in enhancing the emotion of a scene, such as in the scenes previously mentioned. But when used so often, they lose their meaning.
These two factors do not ruin the film, by any means. They were more nuances at times. At the end of the day (one of my favorite scenes and songs), the jam-packed stories of melancholy drive the long feature film and helped bring out the best of Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman, alike. B+
Catch what I consider one of the bets trailers of the year below, too!