Les Miserables

In the latest Broadway musical to be converted to the big screen, Les Miserables takes place in nineteenth-century France around the time of the French Revolution.  It tells the story of a group of characters that are trying to live their lives in this difficult time.  First there is the man Jean Valjean, who after spending most of his life in prison, has been hunted for decades by the police officer Javert.  Valjean has been living under an assumed name in an attempt to hide from the law after being paroled.  He has transformed himself from a thief to a wealthy pillar of the community.  Always having to live in fear of discovery, Valjean and Javert cross paths again when Javert is assigned to the police station in Valjean’s town.  Unrecognizable to his pursuer, Valjean is able to continue his charade and this is when he meets a former factory worker turned prostitute named Fantine who is trying to provide for her young daughter.  Upon her deathbed, Valjean promises Fantine that he will take care of her daughter Cosette.  Little does he know how his life will change upon adopting the young girl while still trying to evade the law.

Directed by Tom Hooper, Les Miserables is unlike any other musical brought to film.  Instead of pre-recording the songs in a studio, Hooper allowed his actors to perform their songs live in front of the camera.  This may not seem like such a big deal, but it allows the actors to breathe life and emotion into every note and syllable.  Each song is a true testimonial to the character and his or her motivation.  Kudos to Hooper for taking on the enormous task of taking a much beloved Broadway musical and bringing it to the silver screen.  So many people adore this musical and the chances of it being an outright flop of a movie was high, but Hooper and the producers bring new life into this classic that every fan of the musical will love.  The story is emotional and heartfelt as the lives of the characters unfold and their story is told.

Les Miserables would not be the strong caliber film that it is without the amazing performances of all the actors and actresses.  Standouts include Hugh Jackman who lost thirty pounds to play Jean Valjean.  He is pitch perfect as the former convict running from his past and gives an award-worthy performance.  One of his best accomplishments is the song “Suddenly”, a ballad about how quickly his life changes when Cosette comes into his life.  Another shining star of Les Miserables is Anne Hathaway who plays the factory worker turned prostitute Fantine.  Her version of the song “I Dreamed a Dream” is heart wrenching and tearful.  She exudes pure raw emotion and this portrayal is also award-worthy.  Les Miserables is a fantastic film that will touch even the hardest of hearts.  Everything that made it a Broadway smash is intensified and exalted in this film version that is sure to see Oscar gold come February.

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