What’s become one of the most critically acclaimed musicals of all time has now become one of the highlights of the 2012 movie season. Leading many of the critic’s choice awards, Les Miserables is the perfect movie to kick off the New Year and should definitely be one of, if not THE first movie you see of 2013.
10. The Cinematography/Sets
In playing around with the cinematography the way they did, along with the beautiful sets and backdrops, the filmmakers present us with a beautifully filmed movie. The accuracy of the sets make for a moving experience, as the filth of the streets, the beauty of the sky, and the hardship of the prisoners are almost real enough to touch. If a visual experience is your thing, then you will certainly not be disappointed.
9. The Price
Though well worth the money, seeing the musical professionally done can often times be quite expensive. The movie does the show enough justice that you can get nearly the same experience in seeing it in a movie theater, as you would an opera house. If for no other reason, see this film for the cheaper price tag. You may find yourself falling prey to the other attractions of this movie.
8. The Plot
Following, and condensing Victor Hugo’s classic, the story of Les Miserables is an incredibly moving journey through the life of Jean Val-Jean, a man imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving family, and sentenced to 19 years of hard labor. When he is released on parole he has grown spiteful of the world, which is unaccepting of a former prisoner. After being shown mercy and acceptance by an honest bishop, he realizes he must change and begins to seek his redemption by living an honest and righteous life, all the while hounded by the former warden of his jail, Chief Inspector Javert, for having broken his parole.
The story is very intense and covers several difficult subjects all while the tragedy of the French Revolution is happening around it. It’s incredibly moving and is almost guaranteed to have you in tears at several moments
7. The Music
To go along with the intense story, a notoriously intense score of songs plays throughout stirring up every emotion on the spectrum, but most will overwhelm you with grief. Songs like “I Dreamed a Dream”, “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables”, and “Javert’s Soliloquy” are well known for leaving the audience in tears, “Master of the House” never fails to make spirits high, “Do You Hear the People Sing?” gives an inspiring feeling of hope, and “Castle on a Cloud” and “Little People” remind us of the innocence of youth. All around the music is what the show is most recognized for and the beautiful soundtrack is largely done justice in this film.
6. The Characters
Tying into the well woven plot, and enhanced by the intense music, Les Miserables boasts a cast of characters you can’t help but become invested in. The righteous and benevolent Jean Val-Jean, the relentless and tight-fisted Inspector Javert, the broken but loving Fantine, the despicable and lowlife Thernardiers, and the sweet and innocent Cosette are just a few examples of the timeless characters that make for a moving show. The music assigns nearly everyone a tune that acts as their theme song, and the characters are well developed enough to keep you interested for the hours it takes to tell the detailed story.
5. The Original Song
The most unique innovation that the film made from the musical was the addition of an original song. The song: “Suddenly” is sung about a third of the way through the movie from Val-Jean to Cosette. The song worked great with the context and added a little more depth to Val-Jean, showing how overwhelmed he is by his continued attempts at redemption, and how he trudges on to fulfill his promise despite the added hardship and the fear of being unready. It was a very well written song, and it fits in perfectly amongst the beautiful score, rivaling the others and scoring them an Oscar nomination for “best original song”.
4. Gavroche & Enjolras
While Enjolras is one of my favorite characters, I always hated Gavroche. This movie managed to change my opinion a little bit. Both of these characters were done perfectly, with Aaron Tviet performing the best Enjolras I’ve ever seen, and Daniel Huttlestone managed to do what I thought would never happen and make me actually enjoy the character of Gavroche. Both of these characters are very inspiring and the acting on their part was superb. They went the extra mile with these two, and it certainly shows that the work paid off.
3. The Thernardiers
You can’t have a show like Les Miserables without a little comic relief. In most performances of the musical, the Thernardiers steal the show; but with the movie, these two manage to get enough face time to be memorable without taking the focus off of the other characters. Sasha Baren Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter made fantastic Thernardiers in my opinion, as they got the right balance of light comic relief and disgusting scum of the earth slimeballs. What also impressed me with them was the fact that they didn’t have the generic cockney accent I’ve seen done to death, and rather than focus in on being disgusting, they chose to focus in on the smooth talking, slick thievery aspect of the characters making for several laughs, and making one of the better portrayals of Mssr. and Mdm. Thernardier I’ve ever seen.
2. Russel Crowe’s Javert
Perhaps the most powerful character of the show, Javert has always been my favorite character. When he’s done right, he can leave a bigger impact than nearly any character…and boy was it done right… Russel Crowe’s portrayal of Javert rivals that of Phillip Quasp, and Geoffrey Rush for my favorite portrayals of Javert. I honestly thought that his raspy voice would get on my nerves, but it actually complimented the character quite well. His acting was spot on, and he gave the character a bit more depth than I’ve ever seen. While still seeing the world in black and white, he manages to take his job to the limit, while still being a relatable character. Even going so far as *Spoiler Alert* pinning a heroes’ medal on the corpse of Gavroche after looking down on him in sorrow. *Spoiler Over* He makes for a very relatable antagonist, and makes for a great contrast to Hugh Jackman’s Val-Jean, making for one of the biggest draws to the film.
1. Anne Hathaway’s Fantine
Often times the only character that leaves a more powerful impression than Javert is Fantine…Anne Hathaway was no exception. Her phenomenal acting made for, by far, the best Fantine I’d ever seen. Her haunting voice draws out more sorrow than any other character and from the moment she was first introduced throughout every scene she was in, I could not stop crying. Being a film they could go a little further with how graphic the torture her character was put through was, and Anne Hathaway does the perfect job of showing herself get slowly broken. I’m almost certain she will get nominated, if not win the award for best actress with this piece, as she showcased her talent like never before.
Well, what are you still doing here? Go out and see this film if you haven’t already. Whether you’re a fan of the musical, or this is your first experience with the story, its well worth the investment and makes for the perfect way to kick off the new year. I suggest you bring a tissue box though, because this movie is definitely a tear-jerker
Post written by Daniel Jerz