Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Movie Review: Les Misérables (2012)

Les Misérables (2012). Directed by Tom Hooper and starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried. IMBD.

So for New Year's Eve my husband I decided to go to the movies, and we wanted a "big" movie for a night like New Year's so we picked Les Misérables, the latest film adaptation of the 1862 novel by Victor Hugo and 1980 musical based on the novel. We picked right, because this movie is an epic and a contemporary classic.

I had seen the musical once a long time ago but I was more or less unfamiliar with the story past the basic premise. The story unfolds across the bloody tableau of 19th century France with all of its political and social upheaval. Jean Valjean is a criminal who had been sentenced to years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. He's released but remains on parole; as a convict, he's a pariah and cannot support himself. After stealing some silver from a church, he decides to break parole and change his life. Years later he's a mayor and respected businessman who through a series of circumstances becomes foster father to a young girl, Cosette. Years pass. More stuff happens. But shadowing Valjean throughout his life is Inspector Javert, a rigid and righteous officer of the law who promises to hunt Valjean to his grave.

The novel is considered to be one of the best ever written; the musical has been hugely popular and an iconic theatrical spectacle. And the movie is just amazing. First of all, the actors all sing their parts. Hugh Jackman is a Tony award winner so we expect him to be excellent, and he is. Anne Hathaway as the doomed Fantine and Russell Crowe as Javert are incredible. Hathaway in particular will break your heart. Samantha Barks as Eponine was wonderful, too, probably the breakout star of the movie. I read on IMDB that she won the roll over Taylor Swift! I can't imagine sugary Taylor as Eponine but Barks is just great.

And the film, which is sung virtually throughout, is completely engrossing. There are no titles until the end of the film so when it starts, it really starts, and draws you right in. Jackman is unrecognizable for his first few minutes on screen and his transformations are fun to watch. The story travels through the revolutions and protests of Paris as well as its streets and houses and social classes. The movie shortens and simplifies lots of aspects of the book- but at over two and a half hours long, it's still got plenty of story and character to keep you going. Sometimes it felt like each character got about 10 minutes of screen time before his or her untimely death, but that's only because time flies when you're having fun, and Les Misérables, for all is unhappiness, is one of the best times I've had at the movies in a long time. Highly, highly recommended for adults and teens, make some time for it before it leaves theaters. It's worth seeing on the big screen!

Rating: RUSH

15 comments:

Audrey said...

So glad to hear you liked this because it's getting such mixed reviews. I want to see it anyway because I love the music. (And then there's Hugh Jackman...) Happy new year, Marie!

bermudaonion said...

I'll have to see if I can talk someone into seeing this with me. Thanks for the review!

Jeanne said...

It was nice that the film was shot while the actors were singing, except for the close-up views of their trembling lips (especially Jackman).

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

My family had the same idea y'all did: Les Mis for a festive New Year's Eve! My review will appear on Thursday but I think overall you liked it more than I did. though I agree that both Anne Hathaway and Russell Crowe were both fantastic (the latter, much to my surprise)!

Literary Feline said...

I am glad you enjoyed it, Marie. I really want to see it in the theater but don't know if I'll get the chance. I've seen the stage performance twice and it's amazing.

Athira said...

I'm glad to see that you highly recommend this movie! I didn't get a chance to read the book yet but I want to watch the movie nevertheless.

Miss Remmers said...

I didn't know anything about this book before hand but absolutely LOVED it. I kept singing "Look Down, Look Down" on the way to work. I agree - everyone did a great job! I'm completely in awe!

Jenners said...

I saw it over the holidays too and thought it was terrific. I went with a friend who didn't have a clue about anything (I had seen the musical years ago) and she loved it. I thought Anne was tremendous. And Hugh -- wow. I didn't recognize him first either. I kept thinking "Is that Hugh? Really? He seems really thin." The music was just so superb and all the actors nailed their parts. I thought it was great. Wonderful review!

picky girl said...

For me, Aaron Tveit's voice was by far the best - I was so so impressed. But Eddie Redmayne's overall performance was brilliant. I love when Broadway/stage actors really get to shine like that.

The big names were big names, and they were good, but they didn't impress me nearly as much as these two guys (and Samantha Barks) did.

So glad you enjoyed it! It had been about a decade since I saw it on stage, but I loved it then and now.

Marie said...

Jenn, I had to look up who Tveit was but YES he was wonderful. I remember wondering who he was when I was watching it. Great film! :-)

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I do want to see this so was happy to read your thoughts. A coworker did not care for it, but a friend loved it so I'll just have to see for myself.

Irish said...

I saw this one recently as well and while I'd seen the stage show it was long enough ago that it was a fresh experience watching the movie. Loved all the music and how well all the actors. Redmayne's Empty Chairs was heartbreaking!

Zibilee said...

I saw the 80's version, and also attended it as a play at my kid's high school. I love the story, and would love to read the book, even though I already know how it turns out. We rarely get out to the movies, so I will probably wait until it comes out on DVD, and see it then. Excellent and interesting review today. I see that you are just as good at reviewing movies as you are books!

Alyce said...

I would love to see it in the theater, but I don't know if that's going to happen since we've just got so much going on lately. I will definitely see it when it comes out on dvd though. Plus that way I don't have to cry in public. :)

Kathleen said...

I really look forward to seeing this one. I've never read the book but seen the stage play a few times. The reviews have been good, including yours and I don't want to miss this one on the big screen!