"Les Miserables" (2012)- Movie Review

Directed by Tom Hooper
Written by William Nicholson (based off novel by Victor Hugo)
Lyrics for songs  by Herbert Kretzmer
Starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and Russel Crowe

‘A grand and unforgettable experience’
One rarely sees ambitious films these days. They get released once in a while, but not always. Occasionally, there is a movie that completely transports you to another world where the atmosphere is distinct and epic.

“Les Miserables” is precisely that film. Tom Hooper’s undeniably bold and well-made epic is the kind of movie that doesn’t get made everyday. Despite being filled with noticeable flaws, it is marvelously told and captures raw emotion in a way few films have over the last decade.

Starring Hugh Jackman in the lead role, “Les Miserables” is set in 19th-Century France. It tells the story of a man named Jean Valjean. After breaking parole as a slave, he is hunted by a unmerciful policeman (Russell Crowe) for decades. Throughout this conflict, he agrees to care for Cosette, the daughter of a factory worker in the city. This decision changes Valjean’s life forever.

Returning fresh after his Academy-Award win for “The King’s Speech”, Tom Hooper directs this adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classical novel and the famous Broadway musical. A director has many obstacles to overcome while creating a movie like this. A film so large in scope, length, and characters is difficult to make, because it can easily have problems. Yet Tom Hooper does his best in bringing to life the characters and settings of the beloved play. The main question is does all the hard work and effort put into this movie pay off?

Yes, but not fully. This is by no means a perfect film, but it is still a thoroughly enjoyable experience. One that’s hard to forget.

Firstly, its very well-made. The sets and costume designs transport you to the specific time period and make you feel like you’re there. A particular astonishing set is the one used for the opening sequence of this movie. It’s large and indisputably suitable for the film’s epic scene. Danny Cohen’s rich and engaging cinematography is worth mentioning too. While the in-your-face shots of characters are certainly far-fetched, they still add to the film’s atmosphere making it more personal and raw.

 The last thing one would expect to be good is the soundtrack, but its fantastic. Actors such as Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway skillfully sing songs with charisma and devotion. Some songs being stronger than others creates a real catastrophe for this film, but as a whole, the soundtrack is great. It enhances this film’s quality to another level. The songs work tremendously when they are needed, such as in the ending of this film.

In terms of acting, it really could not have been better. The whole cast brilliantly portrays fascinating characters.

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Hugh Jackman delivers what may be his best performance ever. He is the heart and soul of “Les Miserables”, carrying the movie on his back. Whats most astonishing about his acting, apart from a well-captured personality and electric screen presence, is the actor’s ability to sing. Demanding, frustrated, and hopeless, he is in the role of a lifetime as Jean Valjean. The Academy Awards better draw their attention to Jackman, because he deserves a nomination and maybe even an award for this film.

Anne Hathaway is another strong standout. In a sad and heartbroken performance, she grasps the personality of a deprived lady with surprising ease. While she does not appear in the movie, as much as Jackman, Hathaway still deserves praise and recognition for her work here.

Russell Crowe is, as always, at the top of his game. As a ruthless police-officer, Crowe establishes charisma and complexity into the character. Despite having a stiff voice in his songs, the actor is top-notch in terms of the intense demeanor and personality he captures.

The rest of the cast includes a star-making performance from Eddie Redmayne, comically perfect duo Sacha Baron Cohen/Helena Bonham Carter and high convincing Amanda Seyfried.

“Les Miserables” is in a nutshell an impressive film, but not without flaws. It’s running time is much too overlong to bear, which starts to show during the movie’s last half hour. Even the pacing is messy. There are, on one hand, occasional moments of slow pacing, but on the other very fast-paced entertaining scenes. Does this affect the quality of the movie?

Absolutely and there is not denying it, but any fan of musicals will definitely adore this film. Yet even people that do not like the genre may still like this movie too.

Not a fan of musicals at all, I went into “Les Miserables” expecting the usual film that I would immediately dismiss, but I was completely wrong. Its not just a movie, its an unforgettable experience.

3.5/5 stars

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