‘Les Miserables’ Musical Hit or Miss: Review

Posted 4 years ago by myetvmedia

Has Tom Hooper done it again with Les Misérables? Bringing a musical from the stage to the silver screen is no easy feat. The #1 grossing movie musical to date is Grease (1978) with a box office revenue of almost $189 million dollars, followed by Chicago (2002)Mamma Mia! (2008), Enchanted, Hairspray (2007) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).  Tom Hooper’s screen version of the musical ‘Les Miserables’ has scored an early 7th place and is already showing a box office return of $106 million.

Many of us are already very familiar with outstanding stage performances of Victor Hugo’s famous novel set in 19th century France amidst the birth of the French Revolution in Paris. We know the story of the relentless pursuit by the policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) of Jen Valjean (Hugh Jackman) and Valjean’s conversion from a convicted felon with nothing but hate in his heart to a man of motivated by love and sacrifice for others. Our hearts are melted by the tragic tale of Fantine (Anne Hathaway) who works her fingers to the bone for her little daughter Cossette (Amanada Seyfried) but who dies a desperate woman with no way to protect her child except for the kindness of Jean Valjean.

(A musical is a movie where people break out into song with no on or off screen source of music or in settings other than a concert venue or recording studio.)

Does Les Misérables offer the moviegoer something for their money? First of all you have to want to have a musical experience and be willing to compromise because a great actor is not necessarily a trained soprano, pop singer or vocalist. The actors in ‘Les Mis’ had to work hard to bring that quality of talent to the role. The young actors really stole the show; Samantha Barks (Eponine), Eddie Redmayne (Marius), Amanda Seyfried (Cosette) and David Huttlesone (Gavroche) are wonderful on screen and provide strong, entertaining performances. It was unquestionably more difficult for Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe to really carry the voice roles with the power that would be expected. Clever use of orchestral background music and choral and ensemble singing helped to smooth over this weakness. Hooper made use of extreme close ups, perhaps too many, throughout the movie to convey through acting what was missing in vocal expression and ability.

Hooper has brought together a massive cast of characters and coordinated a fabulous tapestry of talent from wardrobe, set design, music, makeup and special effects. This directorial undertaking is remarkable. The screenwriting team itself is impressive including Herbert Kretzmer who wrote the lyrics, William Nicholson the screenplay based on Hugo’s novel, and books by Claude-Michel Shonber, Alain Boubil and Jean-Marc Natel. The production values are outstanding and the acting is exceptional.


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