Coming to theatres Christmas Day from director Tom Hooper and Universal Pictures comes a beloved theatre production to screen with LES MISERABLES.
This film tells the story of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), prisoner 24601 who is finally released from the hardships under the watchful eye of Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe). Valjean tries to find work but with papers stating he is an ex-convict he is close to starving.
He comes upon a church and is taken in by the priest who gives him a second chance at life. Years pass as Valjean starts his own business and thrives in a new place as its mayor. In his factory of workers is Fantine (Anne Hathaway), a woman who is trying to support her child Cosette.
Once again Valjean must come to terms with his past as Javert comes to the town as the new head of the police force. Dealing with Javert he doesn’t see the injustice done to Fantine and by the time he does it is too late.
Now Valjean must find Cosette and hide them both from Javert who is bearing down on them. He finds the young Cosette (Samantha Barks) in the care of a despicable couple Thenardier (Sasha Baron Cohen) and his wife Madame Thenardier (Helena Bonham Carter) and strikes a deal for her release.
He takes them back to where he began finding a life inside the quiet and safety of church walls. Until Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), now a young woman falls for Marius (Eddie Redmayne) a young revolutionary of the French June Rebellion.
Now Valjean must own up to his past, Javert, Fantine and Cosette to find some peace.
FINAL WORD: Jackman in the role of Valjean does an amazing job. His voice is strong and his character believable. It is extraordinary what lengths he went through to look so wane and starved yet his performance is flawless. This is certainly the opportunity to show what a versatile actor he is and will get recognition for it I’m sure.
Hathaway as Fontaine is another powerhouse to be reckoned with. Her voice is emotional, powerful and touching. For the time she is on the screen Hathaway makes every moment count. It is interesting to watch her go from cat burglar in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES to the downtrodden Fontaine in less than six months. It has been a good year for Hathaway.
Crowe as Javert is an interesting choice. For a moment I had horrid chills of Pierce Brosnan in MAMA MIA and held my breath as his voice rang out. Now obviously Crowe does not have the same background as Jackman and Hathaway but he held his own and didn’t shy away in the slightest. Javert is a man to be feared and Crowe pulls it off beautifully.
Barks as the young Cosette is just stunning to watch. Her character is cautious, yet aware of everything going on around her. Her voice is absolutely beautiful and the look of a life weary young girl is something to be experienced.
Other cast include: Aaron Tveit as Enjolras, Samantha Barks as Eponine, Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche, Andy Beckwish as the Innkeeper, Stephen Bent as the Jailer, Georgie Glen as Madame Baptistine, Heather Chasen as Madame Magloire, Stephen Tate as Fauchelevent, Bertie Carvel as Bamatabois, Tim Downie as Brevet, and Colm Wilkinson as the Bishop.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give LES MISERABLES four tubs of popcorn out of five. This is truly a unique experience for anyone who cannot get to the theatre to see a production. More and more film and theatres are finding ways to allow audiences a chance to become admirers.
Usually, a soundtrack for a movie such as this is recorded previously as the actors lip synch to a playback. On this film, director Hooper has every song recorded live to capture the performances. This is something that has previously never been done. Jackman, Crowe and producers Cameron Mackintosh gave high praise for Hooper’s decision.
The actors used earpieces to hear a live piano being played off stage in order to sing their parts in key. The piano actually followed the actor’s singing pace and the orchestra was added later to the film in post-production.
I have no doubt that LES MISERABLES will receive many awards, as it should if for nothing else the scope of the film and its attempts to do something that hasn’t been done before by director Hooper. The cast is actually quite good and that will also hail it as one of the best pictures of the year.
Taking nothing from that I have to say seeing the live stage production of LES MISERABLES is something to be truly experienced. I honestly didn’t get that experience watching the film on the silver screen, which was a bit disappointing. A stage production is so multi dimensional that seeing LES MISERABLES on stage can take one’s breath.
The film clocks in at three hours without a break so be mindful of that before hitting the concession stand.
In the end – the dream lives this Christmas!
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