Watching "Les Miserables"
Published on February 5, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review "Les Miserables."

Here's an excerpt:

"I didn’t want to see 'Les Miserables.' But then I saw the preview for the film, and I remembered something I had long forgotten: I like 'Les Miserables.' Or at least I did when I was 15, and the high school band and chorus traveled to New York City to see it on Broadway. I remember playing my 'Les Miz' tape constantly, and even playing some of the music on the piano. That tape is now buried in a box in the hall closet, and the piano music remains at my parents’ house. But it’s safe to say that I have some lingering affection for 'Les Miserables.'

That lingering affection helped carry me through the film version’s rougher patches. 'Les Miserables' is a long movie, with some misguided stylistic touches, but it’s well-performed, and the novelty of hearing famous actors such as Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway and Russell Crowe sing almost all of their lines never wears out its welcome.

Adapted from a Victor Hugo novel, 'Les Miserables' tells the epic story of Jean Valjean (Jackman), who is sentenced to 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread, breaks parole, takes on a new name and becomes a respected mayor and factory owner. He is pursued relentlessly by Inspector Javert (Crowe), a humorless law and order type, and his cover is blown when he rescues a prostitute, Fantine (Hathaway), and agrees to care for her young daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen). The story then jumps forward 10 years. Cosette (now played by Amanda Seyfried) and Valjean live under assumed names, trying to keep one step ahead of the dogged Javert. France has also changed, and we meet a group of young men, and a boy named Gavroche (Daniel Huttlestone), who are preparing for revolution. One of the young men, Marius (Eddie Redmayne), falls in love with Cosette.

Director Tom Hooper, who won a best directing Oscar for 'The King’s Speech,' takes this material very seriously, and his film is a Big Emotional Experience, designed to make you feel like you want to stand up and sing 'Do You Hear the People Sing?' right along with the cast. I was fine with this, and I thoroughly enjoyed following the story’s twists and turns, and humming along to the music, and having my heart ripped out again and again. Hooper presents 18th century France as a cruel, violent and grimy place, which is the right decision, although I kept wishing Fantine and Cosette had been allowed to take at least one bath, and he has a showman’s knack for staging spectacular set pieces."

Click here to read the whole thing.

User Comments
Betty | February 08, 2013 13:08

Hi Sara!
I have not seen "Les Miz" but am hoping to do so very soon. Reading your comments has peaked my interest once again, so I am determined to set a date and go to see it. Thanks!

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