Arts & Culture

Les Miserables: Movie Review

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Les Miserables, a classic by Victor Hugo is a work of literature that has been adapted in spectacular ways on stage. Now the newest version is in the form of a movie, with Director Tom Hooper bringing the story to life with brilliant acting and a strong element of sentimentality that lingers with you long after the screen turns black.

Les Miserables narrates the tale of the peasant Jean Valijean (Hugh Jackman), whose crime was stealing a loaf of bread. A rigid upholder of the law, Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) vows to hunt Valijean down and the movie focuses on how these men go about living their lives in the years following the French revolution. The story also depicts the lives of the poor and ill-treated, strife with social inequalities and injustice in a period of political turmoil. Jean Valijean also promises a dying prostitute called Fantine (Anne Hathaway), whom he believes to have wronged that he will take care of her daughter (Amanda Seyfried).

What truly makes this film worth watching is the stellar performances by its cast. The songs are performed beautifully and never fail to leave the viewer with an accurate sense of the feelings experienced by the characters. Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe deliver remarkable performances as the re-born Valijean and the law abiding Javert, but the star of the show is undoubtedly Anne Hathaway. Her portrayal of a humiliated woman driven to the depths of despair can be felt by her heart breaking performance of I dreamed a dream. Strong emotions are etched across her face as her voice echoes with pain and anger, thus it isn’t surprising that most of the audience was moved to tears during this scene. Other performances like Valjean’s soliloquy by Jackman and On my own by Samantha Banks were also wonderfully performed, while Claude-Michel Schönberg’s music brought it all together with perfection.

The slimy Dickensian couple, Thenardier (Sasha Baron Cohen) and his wife (Helena Bonham Carter) add a dash of humour to a movie that is mostly serious and full of tear-inducing scenes. Carter does an excellent portrayal of a selfish and slightly eccentric woman, a role she seems best suited for in most Tim Burton films.

On the downside, some songs do fall flat and expressionless. The length of the movie doesn’t do much to appease those without a ear for music. Yet, you don’t have to be a diehard music enthusiast to enjoy this film. It is quite possibly one of the best musicals Hollywood has ever seen, with some moving performances and exceptional vocals. Les Miserables is definitely worth a watch, having the ability to make you believe in the power of hope as you walk out of the cinema hall.

Rating-4 out of 5.

[email protected]; A History Honours student at Lady Shri Ram College, I’m a self-certified music nerd, addicted to anything that sounds melodic. Preferences do exist though- Jazz, Alternate Rock, Classical, and electronic if in a slightly eccentric mood. If not found rehearsing a song for an upcoming performance or narrating crazy stories to a group of people, look for someone buried in a ridiculously fat book in the middle of a noisy corridor, oblivious to the world around.

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