Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Les Misérables

Today I saw Les Misérables, starring Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe.

The famous musical is so well-known at this point, I don't feel the need to recount the plot, but I will say that this rendition, sung live by its actors, certainly communicates the sentiment.

Director Tom Hooper thankfully doesn't add flash where none is necessary. Much like its anticipated awards season rival, Lincoln, it feels more like a stage performance than a film at some points, but that's forgiven in the context of the narrative.

Hugh Jackman couldn't be better as Valjean, with his earnest glances and dignified actions; Russell Crowe is equally superb as the rough Javert, nailing every line and mannerism.

Where I cringed a bit was when Anne Hathaway over-acted her part as Fantine, and her beautiful singing was overshadowed by her exaggerated looks of torture and despair. She would have been much more powerful if she'd played it understated. But oh, well. Her screen time is minimal after the first act, and others pick up where she left off—Amanda Seyfried as her daughter Cosette, and the refreshing Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thénardier were welcome sights, as was Eddie Redmayne, who played an impressive Marius.

The aerial shots and meticulous costumes also add a grandeur to the film, which will surely be remembered at the Oscars for its sets and design, if not for its actors.

Overall, this is a satisfying, if not perfect, re-make of a story more often told as a play.


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