Saturday, December 29, 2012

Les Misérables

Plot: Criminal Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) completes 20 years at hard labor in post-revolutionary France, and then skips out on his parole.  Valjean receives charity in the form of church silver from a priest and ten years later he is a factory owner. One of his workers, Fantine (Anne Hathaway,) gets in a spat with coworkers and is fired. She falls in with prostitutes and is beaten by a soldier. Valjean somehow meets her, and takes her to a hospital where she dies. Valjean learns of her daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen/Amanda Siegfried) who is watched over by thieving innkeepers Thenardier & his Madame (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter.) Time passes, Cosette is 15, and a revolution is brewing again. Young revolutionary Marius (Eddie Redmayne) falls for Cosette, but police commander Javert (Russell Crowe) is pursuing Valjean, and Valjean hides with Cosette. The revolution plays out, and people die. After the revolution, love wins out.  [imdb]    [photos]

Review: The good parts are good, and the bad parts are slow. There is grand spectacle with some dull parts. There is some heart-stirring emotion. Some really good songs.

Being a movie cast with famous actors, the songs are staged for drama and less for musical perfection. This makes for more dramatic feeling and less toe tapping. Here is a version of the music on You Tube. 

The best parts are the Anne Hatheway's song "I Dreamed a Dream." She gives a renders a tearfully sad version with enough emotion for Oscar buzz. Of course, Susan Boyle sings it better musically.

I liked the revolution scenes too. Every scene with Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen is a highlight. 

As good as the good parts were, there were several songs that were weak both in musicality and in plot content, and  while the movie did not feel too long, I was daydreaming during the boring songs. 

The visuals are consistently great; the sets and the costumes were tops. 

Compared to other musicals, it is not as good as Evita or Moulin Rouge. I loved both of them. Les Misérables is better than The Hobbit. 

Cast:  Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Eddie Redmayne

Directed by: Tom Hooper, based on the music by Herbert Kretzmer and the novel by Victor Hugo. 

Rating: 3.0 stars. I am glad I saw it.
More: I have not bought any songs from the soundtrack, but I am streaming the Youtube version of the musical.