Matt Adcock’s film review: Les Misérables
“To love another person is to see the face of God.”
You’ve maybe seen the stage musical, you’ve almost certainly heard Susan Boyle’s version of I Dreamed A Dream, but are you ready for a big screen, all singing, all A-list sing-em-up action drama?
Set in 19th-century France, this is the tale of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a good-hearted man hunted throughout his life by a ruthless policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) after he breaks parole.
Valjean’s original crime? He served 19 years hard labour for stealing a loaf of bread to feed a starving child, so he’s not the worst criminal on the block…
Fate sees him cross paths with an unfortunate woman named Fantine (Anne Hathaway) whose daughter, Cosette (played first by Isabelle Allen and then Amanda Syfried) he agrees to look after.
Will Valjean manage to stay free of the law to bring up Corsette? Will Corsette find love with revolutionary rich boy Marius (British actor Eddie Redmayne) and can such a tragic tale of love and loss become a feel good singalong classic?
Les Misérables – the longest ever running musical stage show, fact fans – lends itself to becoming a rich and visually impressive movie.
Buoyed by a strong cast of actors who can actually carry a tune and an impressive eye for detail from director Tom ‘The King’s Speech’ Hooper – be fair, he has come a long way from directing Brit kids TV show Byker Grove – there is much to enjoy here.
As well as the cat and mouse chase dynamic at the heart of the tale, there is also some welcome comic relief from Sacha Baron Cohen as Thénardier and Helena Bonham Carter as his wife – the two reunited after both being in 2007’s Sweeney Todd.
If you hate musicals then you will struggle and even if you don’t, there is never going to be a way to make sung dialogue acceptable in movies
But for fans of the original this version will send you home with a song in your heart and a desire to pick up the soundtrack album…
Epic in its own overblown way at almost three hours, for me the film would have been more satisfying if trimmed by 30 minutes to stop the plot flagging, especially near the end. , That’s right, less Misérables would have been more satisfying.