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Review: Les Misérables

Paige Solomon ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff

Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway in "Les Misérables." Photo Courtesy of Laurie Sparham/Universal Pictures.
Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables.” Photo Courtesy of Laurie Sparham/Universal Pictures.

Combine one of the most beloved musicals of all time, an Academy Award winning director, and an all-star cast and the outcome is Les Misérables.

Les Misérables follows the story of Jean Valjean as he runs from the unrelenting police officer, Javert, after breaking his parole. Valjean takes in Cosette, the daughter of Fantine – a factory worker that turns to prostitution to support her daughter after being fired from the factory. Valjean then faces the challenge of protecting Cosette while running from Javert.

The unique aspect of the film that makes it so true to the musical and so beautifully done, is that the actors sang live on set rather than pre-recording their musical numbers. This technique makes the acting so much more true and showed the raw emotions the actors were putting into their characters.

The film opens with an almost unrecognizable Hugh Jackman as Valjean. As he begins to sing, the emotions of his character are instantly felt. Although I did not feel that Jackman’s voice was as strong as some of the other stars of the movie, I did feel that his singing captured the strong emotions that he was meant to portray. Jackman offers a powerful performance that captures the essence of Valjean.

Anne Hathaway shines as Fantine. Hathaway’s incredible performance is highlighted by her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream.” Following Fantine’s transformation from self-respecting factory worker to ashamed prostitute,  Hathaway immerses herself in the role so deeply audiences forget that she  is simply portraying a character.

Russell Crowe as Javert, the determined police officer, falls flat in terms of singing and facial expressions, but successfully portrays Javert’s  relentlessness on catching Valjean.

Two stars that pleasantly surprised me were Amanda Seyfried as Cosette and Eddie Redmayne as Marius. Seyfried’s voice was angelic and she exemplified the innocence of Cosette perfectly. While it was almost difficult to watch Redmayne sing because it seemed as though he was forcing it, his performance left audiences at the edge of their seats.

Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thénardier and Sacha Baron Cohen as Thénardier added much needed comic relief. Carter and Cohen teamed up to scam visitors of their Inn while performing an upbeat version “Master of the House.” With such a dark revolution looming in the future for France, Carter and Cohen lighten up the mood.

Newcomer to the big screen Samantha Barks plays Éponine Thénardier. As she longs for Marius’ love, she is hurt as he chases after Cosette. Barks is a natural as she has performed in Les Misérables on the stage multiple times. Barks is wonderful as audiences could feel her pain and longing that she feels for Marius.

This film adaptation of the beloved musical is one of the best . Throughout the tear-jerking film running at just over two and a half hours, the audience is transported to the hard times of 19th century France and taken along for the journey with Valjean.

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