The film I am reviewing this week is Les Miserables a film by Tom Hooper and is the musical adaptation of the stage play. The story follows Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) over the span of 17 years as he tries to make a life for himself since breaking parole after serving years of slave labor for stealing a loaf of bread. The story also features Fantine (Anne Hathaway) a single mother sacrificing everything she has including her body to provide for her daughter Cosette. Jean Valjean promises Fantine that he would protect Cosette, and sneaks her out of the city while he is being pursued by Javert (Russel Crowe), a police investigator determined to find Valjean. Many years pass, and Jean Valjean and Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) are now at the dawn of the French Revolution. Cosette Falls in love with one of the leaders of the revolution named Marius (Eddie Redmayne) just as the revolution begins.
Les Miserable was certainly innovative in the way that the film-makers decided to approach making a musical on film. All of the actor’s and actresses voices were all recorded live on set, with an orchestral track recorded over it in post-production. There is no doubt that this new approach allowed for some incredible performances on the part of Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and a small but memorable turn by Sacha Baron Cohen. Even Russell Crowe, who’s vocal talents are not quite on the same level of his co-stars, manages to keep himself effective as Javert. The issue that I had with Les Miserables was in the source material. Apart from the booming, beautiful, epic ballads (of which there are many) they are separated not by dialogue but by rambling songs insistent on providing the subtext of the story that would normally be provided by dialogue. I found the format ineffective in telling the story, although many elements of the story are very strong and emotional. Unfortunately, after the 2 hour and 45 minute run time not even the tent-pole ballads that are so memorable can’t save the movie from feeling exhausting. I felt less exhausted after watching Inception. Apart from the mediocre and uncatchy dialogue music, Les Miserable has too many elements from a film-making perspective and a musical perspective not to appreciate it. The material (though sometimes weak to begin with) is executed with emotional precision and beautiful photography, and I found it very easy to enjoy Les Miserable on multiple levels, though some more than others.