I first heard about the 2012 film version of Les Misérables when I stumbled upon Andy West’s review of it in the Independent. Wickedly funny as it is, it isn’t exactly the sort of review that makes one rush to see it.
Nevertheless, when the film came to town (I almost thought we’d get bypassed again), I went to see it.
And my experience was so different. I absolutely loved the film.
Russell Crowe as Javert was the surprise element for me. His voice sounded raw and unembellished, yet these very qualities were its appeal.
Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean shone in every respect. He sang the part with such conviction and professionalism, it was hard to imagine he had never done a West End role before.
Anne Hathaway’s Fantine has received some criticism for being far too weepy, but to me she conveyed the bitter grief of a much-wronged woman wonderfully in the short screen time her role demanded.
Her ‘I dreamed a Dream’ alone ought to win her a place in history.
Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham-Carter tried hard to be the wily, opportunistic Thénardiers and did offer much-needed comic relief to an otherwise bleak landscape of post-Revolutionary France. But somehow it didn’t quite work. There seemed something contrived and artificial about their performances.
Although several cuts were made into the musical score to shorten the length of the film, it does stretch on for a bit. However, time did not weigh heavily to the audience.
There were several moments when one could see members of the audience reaching for their handkerchiefs. The film does tug at the heart-strings.
What is remarkable is the fact that the entire film was sung “live” (as opposed to recording the soundtrack first and then having the cast mime to it later). It brings a strong sense of realism and freshness to the score.
Here’s what the cast have to say about the film:
I’m planning to see this film again, for the music, the emotion, the whole nine yards. This Les Miz is unmissable.