Les Miserables review

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Directed by: Tom Hooper

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe and Anne Hathaway

Initial thoughts:

I had some idea of what to expect from Les Miserables from having watched the 1978 version starring Anthony Perkins. I thought it had a gripping story and I liked the interaction between Javert and Jean Valjean. It wasn't the plot that had me worried, it was the singing part, which I knew made up most of the film. Thankfully it didn't distract from the story, in fact I actually enjoyed the film more because of the music. All I can say is that it worked. I knew before going in to the film that it would live or die on the singing and as the opening scene proved, the singing and the music added so much emotion to the story. Les Miserables has never been seen as a male orientated film but I thought that the life struggles faced by Jean Valjean was more hard edged than the roughest, toughest Stallone film out there. And then there's poor old Javert, a man of the law who is married to his job.

Jean Valjean's story is a woeful one indeed, in fact the film would be pretty depressing if it wasn't for the obvious strength that the character shows throughout his many ordeals. At heart he is a good person and this is shown several times during the film.

Does the film work?

It's time to put the story aside for a moment to focus on the singing - because there's plenty of it. The actors sung live on set rather than doing an overdub and it worked brilliantly. They didn't just sing, they acted the parts, with gut wrenching emotion. And that's what this film is all about - emotion. There's very little room to breathe as the actors sing there hearts out and I'm sorry to jump on a bandwagon here but Anne Hathaway played her part beautifully especially when she performs THAT song. You can tell that everyone involved put there heart and soul into the making of this film. Hugh Jackman sung well too and despite all the stick that Russel Crowe has received, I thought he played his part well too as the stone cold Javert.

The good points:

Les Miserables is a roller coaster ride of emotion with excellent performances all round. The music is excellent with plenty of memorable tunes which I still have bouncing around my head several weeks after watching it. The Jean Valjean / Javert story arc is gripping and it serves to add tension to all else that happens during the film.

The bad points:

There aren't too many bad things I can think of, just a few gripes with parts of the story involving the odd coincidence. I also felt that Amanda Seyfried was a weak link in the chain. Her twee singing voice didn't quite cut it with me, in fact I thought that Samantha Barks stole a lot of her thunder. Part of that is probably because she sang one of the most memorable songs in the film, for me anyway. I can honestly say I can't remember anything Amanda Seyfried sang.

Overall opinion:

Whether you're young or old, male or female, this film has plenty to offer. It's emotional (that's the last time I'm using that word, I promise) it's gripping and at times it's got a sense of humour thanks to the talented Sacha Baron Cohen. I heartily recommend this film but be prepared to shed a few tears. Not that I did of course. Got to keep up my manly image. Cough.
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