“Les Miserables” is back on the bigscreen, but is it everything that fans of the musical thought it would be?
“Les Miserables,” oftenreferred to as “Les Mis,” is a film adaptation of the original story authoredby Victor Hugo. The musical has been placed in the hands of director Tom Hooper(The King’s Speech) and since its release this past Christmas, it has won threeGolden Globe awards.
The film maker’sapproach is slightly unorthodox when compared to that of other film musicals inthe past, in that every actor sings his or her pieces live on camera.
The story begins in1815. Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), has been imprisoned for several years for theheinous crime of stealing a loaf of bread. Soon, however, he is released conditionally:he must report for his parole or face being thrown back into their best five-stardungeon.
He violates his parole and through analmost “Count of Monte-Cristo” transformation, he assumes a new life and new identityin order to hide from Javert (Russell Crowe), the over-zealous inspector, whohas been on his trail for years. While they play their game of cat and mouse, thewhole of France erupts around them in yet another revolution.
It seems that themovie’s greatest strength is also one of its weak points—the singing. With theexception of Hugh Jackman, who is no stranger to venues such as Broadway, manyof the characters are plagued by people who are primarily actors without theability to sing.
Russell Crowe standstall and intimidating as the ever-vigilant Javert, yet sadly his singing fallsflat—though not from a lack of effort. And yet, there are standout moments suchas Anne Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream.”
From beginning to end,her song is both heart-wrenching and beautiful. The desperation and inhumanityis so clear; it’s easily one of the best moments of the film.
Sacha Baron Cohen andHelena Bonham Carter are the funniest of despicable duos and are characters theaudience can both love and hate at the same time.
The cinematography byDanny Cohen is fantastic; the set pieces put the audience in the moment.
Still, the constantuse of song can sometimes be a turn-off. Also disheartening is the use ofEnglish accents as the film is set during the French revolution.
“Les Miserables” is a wonderful adaptionof the original novel and marks another job well-done for director Tom Hooperand his team. For the casual moviegoer, this may not be his or her brand ofFrench baguette.