“I stole a loaf of breeeeead” – Hugh Jackman
Admittedly it does take some getting used to for the first half hour of Les Misérables where every character sings everything they have to say in no particular tune (a no particular tune that eventually gets ingrained into your very thinking) but once you are in you end up having the doors locked behind you, tied to a chair and fed happy drugs that force you to enjoy and feel every emotion every character is going through. The story does dart off in tangents and as someone who is not familiar with the musical having never seen it before and only having heard ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ really through SuBo’s fame at first this can seem a little confusing as to what is happening but again as you watch everything grows and tangles up together so beautifully it is hard not to like this film.
I’ll admit I did go into this film hoping not to like it, I didn’t think it would be my cup of tea and the trailer has been shoved into my face at every turn I take the last 3 weeks it just made me hate it a little more but I do think Tom Hooper was the man for the job, having acquired the confidence from past successes The King’s Speech and The Damned United he obviously saw a chance to do something special with a film adaptation of the stage show. Having everything in the film sung live rather than pre-recorded makes the big songs, especially those solos by Jackman, Hathaway and Redmayne something magical and wondrous and full of raw emotion rather than a dead-eyed mime set.
Although Hathaway’s part only seemed to last a meer half hour in the scheme of things her story (even though it was cut short) was a heartbreaking and heartwarming one. Her appearance in the film was amazing and deserving of many awards and I do think she is so over-looked by many as the great actress she is. Slated for her roles in the big films the past year by many I start to wonder why she doesn’t get the praise she fully deserves, she is obviously dedicated to her profession and loves what she does, so much so she is willing to cut all her hair off for a single part. I mean sure, that means nothing if when it comes down to it you’re not a good actress but the girl is a wonderful actress who puts her all into every role I’ve seen her in.
Russell Crowe was the most bizarre choice in this film to me, I’ve never thought of him in conjunction to any sort of singing role and I can see why now, the idea is laughable as he rattles through his many lines in a weird low rumble the only thing that fits the bill is his appearance but then even his grumbly manly lines and solo performances end up becoming second nature to you and you accept the fact he can’t sing… but by George is he trying! For effort it’s a 5/5. A lot like Jedward, the effort is there, they’re just not the majority of people’s cups of tea. Russell Crowe = Jedward.
The tragic ends to most of the character’s stories sets the scene perfectly and gives the film something worthwhile and meaningful rather than the usual happy-go-lucky stuff we get in your standard musical. Eddie Redmayne is a nice, but forgettable addition, the kind of actor I imagine everyone would have forgotten about in about 10 years time, the handsome English chap that will appear in a few romcoms from now til his looks start to fade. Either that or revert back to some more BBC costume dramas. Amanda Seyfried is also good but there’s just something about her which I don’t like, I think it’s the way her face is like a 5-year-old has taken a copy of More magazine and chopped bits of other people’s faces off then stuck them together to form a new face. Again, I doubt she will make many appearances outside of musicals.
Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen play the humorous roles in the film as the stealing drunks and look like they’ve walked fresh from the set of Sweeney Todd, which, I like, so no beef there and they both put excellent performances into the film even if their parts don’t really create that big a difference in the film.
Finally, our lead, Hugh Jackman, where I don’t believe his role in general deserves nominations as it wasn’t especially fantastic and nothing mind-blowing the last segment of his journey was juicy and beautifully moving. Much like I imagine the last segment of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange would be, if I like Terry’s Chocolate Oranges. You do end up feeling for Jean Valjean in the film and becoming attached to his constant appearance as the only real arc throughout the film, I’m not saying his bad in any way, he is really good, just not best actor worthy, unless it’s i the musical/comedy section perhaps.
Overall, Les Misérables is a film I didn’t think I would connect with and thought would drag out into infinite amounts of time but actually did the opposite and I think would surprise a lot of people. I didn’t think there would be good songs, I thought it’s all be pretty slow but in fact it was all pretty epic feeling and raw emotion tore through the film like when the Titanic breaks in two. This is a musical actually worthy of success and is a real epic rather than your usual Mamma Mia! which gets picked up and loved by so many despite is outlandish stupidity and emptiness. Les Misérables makes you feel every death and breaks your heart at every corner, it is a tragedy and something really special to the genre, as a sceptic to its success when going in to the whole thing I can honestly say I was converted and the chilling performance of I Dreamed a Dream by Hathaway along with the more cheery and melancholy performances throughout will leave you wanting to see it again or at least hear the songs again. Everyone, go see this now, it is an epic and a real statement on Hooper’s ambition and I don’t think this will be the end, he’s converting me to these costume drama epics and his style and ability to create a great and also funny in parts film is marvellous. Damned United became one of my favourite films the other month when I first saw it and now this has completely blown me away. I will see this again. Promise.