Recently I got the opportunity to attend an advance screening of the motion-picture adaption of Les Miserables and as high as my expectations were, the production vaulted over them with ease and left me stunned speechless with the amazing result.
Calling Les Miserables a “movie” doesn’t come close to doing the experience justice. Director Tom Hooper made history by having the actors record their songs live on set instead of singing along to pre-recorded performances. By challenging his actors to “act through the medium of song” rather than simply perform, Hooper evoked epic performances from his actors that were imbued with drama, emotion and intensity that will leave you spellbound. Hooper also kept the camera in tight on the actors’ faces as they sang giving the emotional moments an intimacy and intensity that you would not expect from such an epic production.
Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, Les Miserables is set against the backdrop of 19th century France on the brink of revolution. Les Miserables is a story that covers the range of human experience from broken dreams, unrequited love and loss to passion, redemption, sacrifice and the endurance of the human spirit. Les Miserables manages to capture a unique moment in history while still evoking emotions and experiences that remain relevant today.
Les Miserables boasts a star-studded cast and each actor’s performance was more amazing than the last. Directed by The King’s Speech Academy Award winning director Tom Hooper and produced by Cameron Mackintosh producer of Les Miserables, Cats, Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon the film stars Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russell Crowe as Javert, Anne Hathaway as Fantine, Amanda Seyfried as Cosette, Eddie Redmayne as Marius, Samantha Barks as Eponine and Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as Mr. and Mrs. Thenardier.
Les Miserables grabs you from the moment the camera opens on Jean Valjean working as a prison slave and does not let you go until the camera fades away from the Place de la Bastille in the final scene leaving you breathless and spellbound for every moment in between. Every actor gives a tremendous showing but special note has to be made of Anne Hathaway as Fantine. When Hathaway finished her performance of I Dreamed a Dream, the audience burst into wild applause, and it is easy to see why her performance has already garnered Oscar buzz. Similarly, when Russell Crowe as Javert and Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean sing their duet The Confrontation you could feel the audience collectively holding their breaths at the intensity of the exchange.
The highest praise I can give Les Miserables is that despite the fact that I have already seen it, I will be first in line on Christmas Day to see it again when it is officially released. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest theater and see what all the buzz is about. You won’t be disappointed.
Click to read my Interview with the Cast, Director and Producers of Les Miserables.