Film Review: ‘Les Misérables’ Paints Emotion in Widescreen Colors

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CHICAGO – Tom Hooper’s “Les Misérables,” the best movie musical in over a decade, is what a musical like this should be – unabashed, unashamed emotion painted in vibrant, broad colors across a massive screen. It is gloriously bereft of the cynicism that has sapped so many stage-to-film adaptations from achieving the heights of their source material and features some of the most striking performances in the history of the genre. And the smart, daring decisions made by Hooper in terms of staging keeps audiences rapt and thrilled for a running time that would have proved too great a challenge for many other filmmakers. Hooper may have won Oscars for “The King’s Speech,” but this is the film for which he’ll be remembered. Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

The story of “Les Miz” is well-known and widely influential. A convict named Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), who was made a pariah of the law simply because he wanted to steal some bread to feed his starving family, hides his past with a name change and a new life while an officer named Javert (Russell Crowe) tries to track him down. Upon this base structure of plot, numerous subplots are sent spinning, including a woman named Fantine (Anne Hathaway), who begins near the bottom or the socio-economic ladder in a city where the chasm between the haves and the have-nots is starting to take more lives and falls from there. Years later, her grown daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) falls for a revolutionary named Marius (Eddie Redmayne), who is unrequitedly loved by Eponine (Samantha Barks). As revolution brews in the background, Valjean comes to terms with why he has been saved so many times where others have fallen and Javert draws closer to his target.

StarRead Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Les Misérables” in our reviews section.

All of this complex storytelling is told in song. “Les Misérables” is not your traditional Hollywood musical in that except for a few numbers it is told almost entirely without traditional choreography. Don’t expect the lavish dance sequences of films like “Moulin Rouge” or “Chicago.” On the contrary, “Les Misérables” is more of an opera than a standard movie musical. Lines that would otherwise be dialogue to get from one set piece to another are sung, creating a rarely-stopped wave of music to carry the viewer from opening to closing credits. To be fair, if that sounds like torture to you, it probably will be. To say that Tom Hooper made smart decisions with “Les Misérables” is to imply that he made the decisions that fans of this musical and musicals in general would like. I believe that fans of all movies could see the grand spectacle on display here as something worthwhile and interesting but if you “don’t like movies where people sing,” this won’t turn you around.

StarContinue reading for Brian Tallerico’s full “Les Misérables” review.

“Les Misérables” stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried, Samantha Barks, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Helena Bonham Carter. It was adapted by William Nicholson and directed by Tom Hooper.

Les Misérables
Les Misérables
Photo credit: Universal

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