Viva Les Miserables!

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Having seen a couple of productions of Les Miserables on stage I was keen to see how this musical would adapt to the big screen and overall I wasn’t disappointed.

The film is based on the musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, which is based on the 1862 French novel, Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. Whilst ideas for adapting the musical into a film began in the late 1980s it wasn’t until after the musical’s 25th anniversary in 2010 that development of the film commenced with Tom Hooper as Director and William Nicholson along with Boublil, Schonberg and Herbert Kretzmer as scriptwriters.

A fine ensemble cast was put together for this film adaptation with the standouts being Hugh Jackman’s performance as prisoner turned business man and mayor, Jean Valjean, and Ann Hathaway as the tragic Fantine. Hathaway’s singing was sublime and brought tears to many an eye the day I saw the film, including my own! Her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” was full of emotion and was totally heartfelt: moving from soft tender moments to climatic note striking highs. Jackman’s rendition of “Bring Him Home” likewise moved the audience to tears.

Look, I was even pleasantly surprised with Russell Crowe’s performance as police inspector Javert. Certainly it is a long way from his rock band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts but he managed to pull off most the songs with a certain amount of ability, however it was his characterization as the relentless pursuer Javert that pulls him through.

The comedic roles of Thenardier and Madame Thenardier played by Sascha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter are wonderful and had the audience laughing especially with their version of “Master of the House.”

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Helena Sacha

The rest of the ensemble cast are all strong in their performances and you’d be a pretty strange person if your foot doesn’t tap a little to the stirring version of “Do you hear the People Sing?” which undoubtedly sums up the Revolutionary movement.

If you’re a first timer to a musical be aware, that yes, they sing all the dialogue not just signature tunes. While there are a few moments in the film where the running melody becomes a little repetitive and the telling of the story through “singing” seems awkward and contrived, overall the bad moments are few and far between.

It will be interesting to see how this film goes with the upcoming round of awards ceremony’s including the Oscars with many of the actors and production staff up for nominations including the film itself. Great to see Jackman already taking out the Best Actor Award at the Golden Globes!

Of course a film with two Australians in lead roles should be enough to get some home country support, so if you haven’t popped along to see it do so, but remember, if you’re a softy like me, take the tissues!

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