Luner on Les Miserables
While reviewing a movie isn’t something we normally do here at Luner on Theatre, how could we not put in our five cents on the new movie musical adaptation of Les Miserables? The film, which is stirring up quite some opinions when it comes to musical theatre and movies combined, is one we were lucky enough to experience twice now. So now why not say what we thought? Luner on Theatre is happy to bring your our review today of Les Miserables – the new movie adaptation of a world renown musical that still seems to strike audiences to the very bone in this new cinematic masterpiece.
Everyone knows the story of Les Miserables. Its one of the greatest pieces of theatre to ever be brought to life on the stage following the novel written by Victor Hugo. One of the most important factors in attending the Les Miserable movie is knowing what to expect. Your expectations will result in how you enjoy this movie. If you’re going into this film expecting to see the Broadway musical, you’re gonna hate it. For starters, its not a live stage show and two, its a film adaptation of a musical. With this comes the usual factors such as changing lyrics, adding songs and even moving around the ones that already exist. If you don’t see this coming, don’t even bother attending.
This film adaptation of Les Miserable is nothing short of brilliant. I’ve seen it twice now and thoroughly enjoyed the film both times I saw it. Directed by Academy Award winner Tom Hooper, the film proves it has clearly taken the time to commit to every single aspect of this musical film production. Even down to the very teeth of each person, this film has dedicated scores of money, talent and time to making this film into everything it could possibly be. When it comes to the overall product, Les Miserables is epic in every sense of the word. From the talent of the actors to the technical design of the film, Hooper (Aided by the original Les Miserable Team) has created a standard other movie musicals will look to with future films.
The film is lead by Hugh Jackman (Pictured Right) who stars in the role of Jean Valjean. Hugh Jackman gives an outstanding performance as Valjean who clearly works from the day he is released until the day he dies for a better life. Jackman provides fantastic vocals and superb acting throughout. He performs classic pieces such as “Bring Him Home” or “Valjean Soliloquy” in his own style which was different to the familiar theatre audience but still scored with great power. Russell Crowe stars as Javert who is a police inspector who dedicates his life to finding Valjean and imprisoning him once again. Crowe finds himself in one of the hardest roles of the show and is receiving some of the toughest criticism. While Crowe is by no means Jackman when it comes to his vocals, his acting is just as superb creating the character of Javert through his consistent strong acting choices. His vocals, which start off a little rough, only get better as the movie goes on. He may not be vocally ranked with other members of his cast but he is by far the only one who could match a level of acting such as Jackman’s to star in the role opposite.
Giving the performance of a lifetime is Anne Hathaway (Pictured Left) who stars as Fantine in the movie. From the moment she enters the picture until she leaves, Hathaway makes bold choices that define her as one of the best actress’ of this generation. Her rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream” had the audience in tears in one of the most perfectly crafted scenes of the entire movie. For the short time she appears in the film, she makes a big impact and leaves you wanting more even as time passes and she can no longer be there. Amanda Seyfried stars as Cosette, Fantines daughter in the movie who we meet once she has grown up. Seyfried works hand in hand with Jackman to create not only a believable but loving father-daughter relationship. It is nice to see her grow over time through the pain and suffering she endures throughout her life.
Sacha Baron Cohen who stars as Thenardier and Helena Bonham Carter (Both Pictured Right) who stars as Madame Thenardier are hands down one of the greatest aspects of the entire film. I could truly not think of two better actors in this generation to fill those roles and bring them to life in the hilarious manner in which these two did. From their first appearance on the screen, these two brilliant actors manage to fill and exceed the audiences expectations of who the Thenardier’s are. They score as one o the funniest and most lovable aspects of the entire film all the way through to their wedding shenanigans.
Newcomer Eddie Redmayne stars as Marius in the movie capturing the hearts of many. He plays the role of Marius who is stuck between fighting for a love he barely knows and fighting with the fellow revolutionaries. Redmayne provides fantastic vocals and acting as a young boy lost with what to do. His rendition of “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” is very haunting. As opposed to the normal theatrical staging of empty chairs and empty tables, we quite literally see him in a cafe burned, scarred with bullet holes with clear evidence of the revolution that once was. Another newcomer to the screen is Samantha Barks (Pictured Above) who stars as Eponine in the film. Barks, a veteran West End theatre performer, is hands down one of the best aspects of the entire overall film. She is breathtaking, beautiful and as talented as they come. It seemed to me the role of Eponine was downsized for the movie which disappoints me because of just how talented Bark’s is. Her appearance in the film marks why when it comes to movie musicals, it is always a good choice to go with a theatre veteran even though they might not be a Hollywood name.
Another theatre veteran who appears in the movie is Broadway’s Aaron Tveit (Pictured Right) who stars as Enjolras. While the role isn’t one many typed Tveit into performance wise and vocally from the start, he proves himself consistently throughout the film as one of the major driving forces. I think we can all admit we wiped a tear from our eye as he falls with the red flag as the revolution comes to a deadly end for his fellow revolutionaries and himself. His bold acting choices and excellent vocals only further Barks remarkable performance proving that Hollywood shouldn’t be afraid to turn to Broadway and the West End if they are producing a movie musical.
The major decision to film with live singing is one that I believe the film should be proud of in the end. While many complain and say “it made no difference”, there clearly was one. This Les Miserable film is easily able to distinguish itself from other television shows and movies who have caught on and become obsessed with what seems to be the auto-tuned generation. The singing is live, raw and very much in the moment of whatever part of the film you are at and that is what truly captures even more of your emotions throughout the piece.
Side Note: Please change every stage adaptation of Les Miserable to the priest returning at the end along with Fantine to welcome Jean Valjean home instead of the usual Eponine. That decision is not only one that was moving and emotional but quite literally chilling. It is amazing to see the love come full circle in this story.
Les Miserable is the type of musical we can all relate to. We have all had the chance to redeem ourselves from wrong doings, wanted someone we can’t have or had to stand up and fight for something we truly believe in. This musical is as successful as it is because it relates to our every day lives even hundreds of years later. And while one may argue this Les Miserable film destroys one of theatre’s greatest works, it really depends on you. Your perception becomes your reality. Whether you choose to ignore the people singing or stand up and fight with them at the barricades, the voice of the people will not be silenced. Les Miserable is a film that writes its own wrongs with any imperfections overshadowed by stellar performances, excellent technical production and one epic lesson; while love, forgiveness and a second chance are sometimes the smallest gifts in life, they are the greatest.