Until going to see this film, I had never actually seen any kind of production of Les Misérables before, meanwhile, the book has been sitting on my shelf since the summer but I never quite got around to reading it. Therefore, I wasn’t sure of what to expect from it. I had an idea of the story; 19th century France, everyone is poor and, well, miserable. Knowing Victor Hugo and his writing, I had an idea that there would be some morally strong themes throughout, a la the Hunchback of Notre Dame. And of course I was familiar with the songs. Sure wasn’t Susan Boyle constantly belting out ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ there a few years back? And don’t my own roommates sing it at the top of their lungs while I’m trying to sleep?
This film caught me completely by surprise though. I had heard a lot of criticism about Russell Crowe’s singing, the singing in general and the acting, so I wasn’t expecting much when I sat down with my popcorn. The idea of all singing and no lines had made me apprehensive too. However, I need not have been. From the moment the film opened, I was completely captivated. And how I wished I had brought some tissues.
Hugh Jackman is as beautiful as ever in his part as Jean Valjean. While Anne Hathaway is brilliant as Fantine. Her performance of “I Dreamed A Dream” sparked the first of many floods of tears throughout the cinema theatre that evening. Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen provided the much needed breaks from the misery of the story, as Thénardier and Madame Thénardier. Helena Bonham Carter plays her token nutjob character to perfection once again. However, for me, Samantha Barks stole the show as Éponine. I’m partially biased because I actually saw her in the role of Nancy in Oliver recently, but I felt that she was the best singer out of the whole cast. I swear if they had cast Taylor Swift in that part as had been rumoured, I would have probably walked out of the cinema.
None of the songs were pre-recorded for the film, which was a big risk. There were times when you could tell that this was the case, however for the most part, this added to the beauty of the film. This worked particularly well during the scenes of the revolutionaries and the performance of ‘Do You Hear the People Sing’.
Honestly I’d head to see this movie again tonight if I could. It’s emotionally draining, but it is amazing. My only recommendation is that you bear in mind that it’s nearly three hours long and do yourself a favour, don’t order a large coke. You won’t want to miss any of this.