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Tom Hooper did a masterful job directing each actor in Les Misérables to give a full out performance and sing from their very souls. Les Misérables is a movie about the French Revolution replete with big name Hollywood stars singing their hearts out. Starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen, it’s a film that breathtakingly transports viewers into the midst of the harrowing French Revolution.
The film follows a convict named Jean Valjean (Jackman) as he flees from his relentless police pursuer, Javert (Crowe). Hathaway’s portrayal of lowly prostitute Fantine, who is forced to sell her hair, teeth and her body to send money for her daughter, Cosette (Seyfried) to be cared for is beyond phenomenal and definitely Oscar-worthy. Jackman and Hathaway’s singing abilities go beyond anything that they’ve ever done before and will move viewers to tears.
Russell’s portrayal of the relentless Inspector Javert felt a tad miscast though his acting was top-notch. His singing ability seemed to be the same in every scene, not really deviating in range.
Seyfried’s portrayal of Cosette as a young, naïve yet passionate young girl is enchanting as she falls in love at first sight with rebel Marius (Eddie Redmayne) and he with her. Redmayne’s defiant and bold portrayal of Marius is sure to put him on Hollywood’s sexiest man radar.
Yet, Samantha Barks’ performance as Éponine, the daughter of the dastardly Thénardier and Madame Thénardier (Cohen and Carter), the couple who care for young Cosette, directs the spotlight away from Seyfried as her unrequited love for Marius and stunningly powerful vocals are so moving that viewers will find themselves rooting for her to ultimately win his heart.
Another shining light in this otherwise sad tale is young Daniel Huttlestone’s portrayal of Gavroche, a young boy fighting just as hard for revolution as the others. His scenes are so stirring along with such commanding vocals for someone so young, every scene he’s in is sure to command audiences’ attention.
In addition, the production value of the movie isn’t to be ignored as the scenery and the camera work will make the audience truly feel as if they are right alongside each character in post-revolutionary France.
The only small complaint might be the lack of backstory for Valjean and Fantine. Audiences do not get to see how Valjean came to be imprisoned, Valjean only explains that he stole a loaf of bread so his sister’s child wouldn’t die of hunger. In addition, we don’t see how Fantine came to be in such dire straits that she was reduced to selling her wares for an insignificant amount of francs. Again, we only hear why through her vocal account. These explanations were riveting but might have been even more so if played out in actual scenes.
In the end, Les Misérables is a musical masterpiece and if you enjoy thrilling vocal performances and heartbreakingly emotional scenes, then this movie should not be missed.