After Tom Hooper took home an Academy-Award for The King’s SpeechÂ (which also won Best Picture), he would’ve been in the position to pick any project he desired. Kudos are in order then for having the guts to not only make a musical that has been made so, so many times before, but to make it using “live” singing from the impeccable cast.
Hugh Jackman delivers in spades as the main protagonist. He can not only hold one hell of a note, he can reach the emotional highs and (especially) lows that his character experiences. It is, arguably, his finest role to date and reminds us of just how versatile he can be. Anne Hathaway is bound to get some Oscar recognition with her heart breaking turn. Even though her performance is not one that has the range of emotion of Jackman’s, it is a sad, downright depressing role that she completely inhabits. Her rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream” is one of the most powerful scenes in the cinema this year. Russell Crowe can’t really compete on the singing circuit, but he is nevertheless impressive as the villain of the piece.
Incredible performances aside, this isn’t a movie for everyone. This isn’t the type of musical where people randomly break into song now and again; it’s 99% singing. Depending on your willingness to accept this (and musicals in general), you will either go along with this heartbreaking story and the world in which it takes place, or you’ll roll your eyes and wait for the crying and singing to just stop. Also, the songs, minus a select few, aren’t the catchy or toe-tapping types either. Another point some folks may see as a negative: the running time, clocking in at 157 minutes.
Tom Hooper has crafted a huge movie with Les MisÃ©rables. The sheer scope of what is on display, both technically and dramatically, is to be marveled at. His swooping camera captures this grand story with startling confidence. Extreme wide-shots to depict the scale of 19th century France and extreme close-ups that, at times quite uncomfortably, places us in such proximity to these characters and their issues that they become impossible to ignore.
Les MisÃ©rables is an old-fashioned film that uses everything in its arsenal to great effect. An exhausting, epic, sweeping musical that truly impresses.