I am slightly reluctant to write this for fear of giving away spoilers, so be warned, this post is about the new Les Miserables movie. It is rare that I am speechless about anything but I have to say I cannot find the words to describe it.
Most of the people reading this will probably have seen Les Mis on stage on at least one occasion. I’m guessing on that basis that they will also have an opinion and some expectations for this long awaited film.
Whatever your thoughts may be, for goodness sake go and see it. Some of the trailers and clips that have been shown have caused immense speculation and opinions on the singing have been pre-formed. But until you have seen it please do not let this be your final assumption.
Hugh Jackman offers a fantastic portrayal of Jean Valjean. He absolutely understands the part and he is tough yet compassionate. He gives a very honest characterisation and has a strong singing voice. I feel he has been well cast and his death had me sobbing uncontrollably. Some changes have been made here but I can see why they have and it still works well. Jackman has also been given a new song which I enjoyed very much.
Russell Crowe as Javert has probably had the most mixed response, with the general opinion being lukewarm. I say give him a chance. He is not the greatest singer by any means, but I have to say I think the casting works. He has the right expression, an imposing presence and he and Jackman play off each other very well.
Fantine may be only in a very small section of the show but Anne Hathaway absolutely steals it. I defy anyone to keep a dry eye when she sings I Dreamed a Dream. It is so heartfelt and you cannot help but feel sorry for her. What screen time she gets is time well spent. Utterly moving.
Eddie Redmayne shows the reason he was cast as Marius -his Empty Chairs is gut wrenching- and Sam Barks is another who absolutely deserves her role as Eponine. She is such a sorry sight as she silently loves Marius and sings it (On My Own). Barks is very strong throughout.
Fra Fee, Killian Donnelly and George Blagden are all excellent as Courfeyac, Combeferre and Grantaire respectively. There are some truly stunning scenes involving the boys at the barricade and the passion running through them is clear to see. Some parts are hard to watch as I feel very affectionate towards these guys.
A special mention must go to Tom Huttlestone who plays Gavroche. He is absolutely brilliant, his acting and singing appearing to be from someone far more advanced in years than he. Isabelle Allen (young Cosette) is also a marvellous little actress and singer.
The Thenardiers as always provide much needed comedy relief, with Sacha Baron-Cohen and Helena Bonham-Carter both suitably shifty. Cosette is rather a dull character and I fear she still is in this film, less down to Amanda Seyfried than to the role itself. Seyfried plays it well enough. Personally I am not keen on her voice but this is entirely my opinion. I did however enjoy Aaron Tveits portrayal of Enjolras.
It was also a pleasure to see Colm Wilkinson as the Bishop. A lovely nod to the original Valjean and a really special moment. I even felt moved by his compassion. Beautiful.
It is always nice to see our West Enders doing well and Les Mis is a bit of a west ender fest. Playing spot the performer is quite fun as they appear in many scenes as extras/ensemble. Hadley Fraser has a cameo role but when he sings you know about it. He has one of the strongest voices in it. His moustache should get a credit too!
I need to stop gushing but this movie is totally worthy of it’s many BAFTA and Oscar nominations. It felt wrong not clapping after every song and the round of applause at the end was spontaneous and totally justified. If you are in two minds just go. If you don’t fancy it then go. There was not a dry eye in the house and I really think this is one of the greats.
The score is wonderful, sets fantastic and Tom Hooper has made it absolutely stunning. I have tried to avoid spoilers but I genuinely do not have enough words. Just go and witness this wonder for yourself. I’m going again tomorrow. Bravo all of you. BRAVO.