Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Les Miserables (2012)

Overlong, overbearing and painful to watch, Les Miserables stays true to its meaning, literally.

Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption-a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Jackman plays ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (Crowe) after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s (Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever. In December 2012, the world’s longest-running musical brings its power to the big screen in Tom Hooper’s sweeping and spectacular interpretation of Victor Hugo’s epic tale. — (C) Universal

Overall the whole cast is good but Hugh Jackman stands above the rest. Russell Crowe’s voice was decent but it didn’t fit his role.

Beyond that everything just makes you miserable.

The raw performances result to jarring scenes that are painful to watch. The actors emote and try to hit the notes at the same time, captured in claustrophobic close-ups that just highlights their struggle to perform. Anne Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream” was good, but the close-up rendered it maudlin. Russell Crowe was so stiff in his monologues he fell like a brick.

The backdrop is reduced to school play-like set pieces without any of the story’s social realism. As a result, it doesn’t make any impact nor makes any sense. Plus it’s hard enough to pay attention, especially when it’s Crowe’s turn to belt out his lines. Then there are scenes where different actors sing different lines all at the same time.

Close-up monologues and exchanges are churned into repetitive sequences that eventually wear you out. Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter  provides the refreshing humor, but that too eventually loses its charm.

The microscopic focus on the character would have worked in theater, but not in the film. The actors do what they can and Hugh Jackman prevents the adaptation from being eroded by Hooper’s squirm inducing directing, but that’s not enough. Fans of the theater version may be more forgiving, but others will be left bored.

My Rating: 5/10

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