Going into Les Misérables, I was extremely excited. I had been waiting quite a while to see the film, and to make matters worse, I thought it was going to be released at Christmas. But that was in America, us Europeans had to wait until the eleventh of January. And then, due to school and life in general, I had to wait one day more (I had to sneak that in somewhere) and then some, until the thirteenth.
But it was so worth the wait.
If you want any background, I’m just going to drop the link to the Wikipedia page, because it’s fairly complicated, and if I explained, it would probably be extremely confusing for all. So here you go… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Mis%C3%A9rables
Jean Valjean was played by Hugh Jackman. Valjean is a French prisoner, who spent 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread, and for trying to escape. He is eventually released on parole, but after he is saved from the police by a priest, he skips parole, and sets up a new life for himself after the priest gives him some silver. This new life leads him to Fantine, and eventually to Cosette. Jackman’s performance was brilliant, and there really wasn’t anything to complain about.
In my opinion, Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Javert was actually pretty great. Javert is the police officer who granted Valjean his parole, and who has basically dedicated his life to getting Valjean back in prison for breaking parole. The people I saw the film with didn’t think Crowe’s performance was anything to shout about, but personally, I didn’t see anything majorly wrong with it.
There was a lot of hype about Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of Fantine, which was completely justified, because she was absolutely amazing. After being fired from her job, Fantine can no longer send money to the innkeeper who she pays to mind her child, Cosette. She sells her hair, and a few of her teeth, and then falls into prostitution, and gets herself into quite a bit of trouble. She wasn’t in the film for as long as I’d like her to be, but when she was on screen, Hathaway’s performance was absolutely captivating. I know from reading about it, that she was really committed to the role, and she really put her all into portraying Fantine the best she could.
Amanda Seyfried was great as Cosette, as was Isabelle Allen as young Cosette. Also Eddie Redmayne as Marius and Samantha Barks as Éponine were brilliant.
For me, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen really stole the show. They play the Thénardiers, two innkeepers, who basically steal and swindle anything and anyone they can. Fantine pays them to take care of Cosette, but when Valjean shows up, they accept a rather large amount of money to let him take Cosette off their hands. They’re Éponine’s parents, and while in charge of Cosette, they treat Éponine as a little princess, and Cosette as little more than a slave. But they really are brilliant, and they bring a touch of comedic gold to what is quite a serious film.
And now for the music… I know not everybody likes musicals, and Les Misérables is more than your average musical, because as most of you probably know, everything is in song, even the dialogue. I loved it, I adored the songs, and I genuinely loved the immersive experience that the constant singing brought to the film. All of the songs were brilliant, but I have to express my preference for two songs in particular. The first being “One Day More” and the second being “Do You Hear the People Sing”. The entire soundtrack was brilliant, but these two songs in particular deserve a special mention.
If you don’t want spoilers, don’t read any further!
I don’t think I was the only person who was genuinely invested in the characters. I mean when Javert jumped, I could hear a few people audibly gasp, and there were a few teary eyes when Éponine sang her final note. And gosh, when Valjean died, and Fantine showed up, that was possibly the most beautifully sad thing I’ve experienced since I read The Fault in Our Stars.
I came out of the cinema with that uplifting feeling that brilliant movies give. I mean the end scene, with all the characters, dead and alive up on the huge barricade, all singing, it was just incredibly moving, it really was. There were a lot of people coming out of the theatre misty-eyed, which may be a slight understatement.
Overall, Les Misérables was genuinely amazing. It’s one of the best films I’ve seen in the past while. It was as good as the Hobbit, though in a different way obviously. I think I’d have to give it 4.5/5 stars, because it really was absolutely outstanding.