Director: Tom Hooper
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried
Setting: Various locations in France and Paris
The 2012 movie version of the musical based on the classic novel by Victor Hugo was well worth seeing. Even though I have seen the musical many, many times, and have even read a translation of the novel, the story still makes me tear up in the usual places. I am sure if I had been by myself in the theatre, I would have been sobbing. Of course, I was skeptical going in that this film version would meet the expectations of the stage versions so familiar, but this version does, albeit with a few flaws.
Hugh Jackman was great as Jean Valjean. He is a stage actor and has a strong voice and sufficed in the title role. He does not have the voice of a Gary Morris (that I heard sing Bring Him Home at a concert) or of any of the others I have seen on stage, but he did an admirable job in the movie. I thought he should have aged faster than he did in the film, but the makeup artists finally made him look really old near the end. I also liked how they did not make his hair turn bright white like they usually do on stage.
Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried also were good casting for the movie. They have lovely voices and looked the parts. Ms. Hathaway had some very emotional scenes that were not flattering and she was believable. She and Ms. Seyfried are just good in anything I see them and I appreciate their talent.
Eddie Redmayne has a great voice and he is one of my favorites (see my post on My Week with Marilyn). However, I don’t think his casting as Marius was the best. I have no complaints about the casting of his friends, but I was disappointed that this Marius was not taller, darker, and more handsome with a deeper voice. Most liked his casting, just not me. Also, I could go on and on about his hairstyle in this one–not good.
Inspector Javert is one of the most important roles in the story. He doggedly chases Valjean through the years and finally catches up to him only to let him go. Of course, he cannot live with that decision. Honestly, I thought Russell Crowe was good casting–except for his voice. I just don’t think his voice is strong enough for the role. Mr. Crowe shows all of the emotions that the role needs, but his voice is simply too weak for Javert. Maybe I was spoiled by Jonathan Pryce. Plus, I like Mr. Crowe as the underdog hero rather than the villain. I wanted to like this Javert too much.
Who were the standouts in this version of Les Misérables? The Thénardiers were, as they usually are in any version! Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were simply some of the best Thénardiers I have seen. Yes, as usual, they stole everything and the show as well–perfect casting for these two. The young woman who played Eponine grown up was also very good. I am still shocked at how thin her waist was and if was possible to be real or some camera trick, as her features and arms, etc. are not thin. Anyway, Samantha Barks was wonderful in her role.
The movie followed the stage version almost perfectly, as best as I could tell. The transitions were well done from scene to scene and between the long time periods. I wanted an intermission in the usual spot, too! What happened to movie intermissions? I miss them. The costumes, sets, and music were all well done; however, I doubt I will buy or download any of the music because the voices were just not as good as the theatre actors’ voices. I have learned that the composers did create some new music for this film. According to IMDB, the actors were appreciative for how the singing was recorded during filming. Also, they had earpieces with a piano playing to keep them in key.
I wanted to see this movie on Christmas Day, but was lucky to see it so quickly. I might see it again at a matinee, just to take it all in again and enjoy the details, and maybe even cry. Recommend!