Musical Drama: Les Misérables

Fight. Dream. Hope. Love.

Les Miserables follows the story of Jean Valjean who starts from being a slave to his death during the June Revolution in Paris. It shows his transformation from a destitute member of society to being a town mayor and, in the latter part of the movie, a father.

I have never seen the stage musical but I know of the story and I have seen the two anniversary concerts. I am familiar with how heavy the material is and what are the important ideas Victor Hugo wanted to tackle in writing this novel. The big screen provided heightened levels of the emotions of the musical itself. It elevated all of the feelings, emotions, frustrations, disappointments and heartbreaks. Everything seems to be on a higher level. Thus, it makes the experience a lot more personal and you would fully appreciate plot and values embedded within.

What helps in this elevation is the fact that the songs are sung live. Most of the fans know these songs by heart. However, you have never seen them performed at a situation where you really need a song that would best exemplify your feelings of the moment. That made it a bit more real for me. You have the acting and the singing in one place. You have the raw emotions go with the song which is a bit more natural for the actors because they are sung live.

Given a cast like Jackman, Crowe, Hathaway, Redmayne, Barks, Baron Cohen, Boneham Carter and Tveit, you would do nothing wrong with the movie. I am a fan of the musical and I think that the mainstream actors provided a pleasant surprise given that they need to sing aside from acting. I had qualms with Crowe’s singing ability when I heard the soundtrack of the movie. But, Crowe is a veteran actor and what I found lacking in his singing can be found in his superb acting skills.

Hugh Jackman as Valjean was definitely worth mentioning. His portrayal of the famed protagonist could very well be an important part of his career. If Anne Hathaway wins an Oscar for this, I will definitely say that is very well-deserved. Despite the fact that she only appeared for about 20 minutes in the film, those were very sumptuous and savory 20 minutes of acting for her. You cannot help but be moved and pity the situation she is in. Eddie Redmayne is a revelation. You can’t help but giggle when he was love struck and you can’t help but to comfort him after the battle. The Thernadiers are the designated comic relief of the movie and they have done well. Every time they have a scene, people just can’t help but laugh because of their antics. And mind you, we need a little comedy in our lives because of all the drama that is happening.

Jackman’s and Redmayne’s singing are the best for me in the film. While Hathaway’s and Bark’s provided the much needed pity and drama that you cannot help but cry.

I also find the cinematography very beautiful. I loved the landscapes shown and the views of the city. It was like I am really transported to the 1800s in France. I am not at all familiar with the clothing then but I think that the clothing were both extravagant and spot on. What I also liked about the movie is that it cleared some of the things that I question about the setting of the story. I learned of what the students are fighting for and the social situation in France during that time.

The movie should be watched on the big screen for first time viewers. It is meant to be taken in with a full heart and an open mind. If you are a fan of the musical, you will definitely love how Tom Hooper made this film. If you are not, it is still a movie that has a great plot and historical significance.

To love another person is to see the face of God. -Jean Valjean


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