Outstanding, emotional and sensational.
The global phenomenon and winner of 3 Academy Awards and 4 Baftas, Les Miserables is a simply beautiful film following the lives of several characters during the time of French revolutionary struggle between 1815-32. A superbly acted musical with poignant songs that renders its audience speechless.
The film begins with Valjean (Jackman) being released on parole after 20 years imprisonment for stealing a loaf of bread and running from the police. His gauntness is the product of Jackman’s determination to convey a haggard Valjean, achieving this through starving himself for 2 days before filming to create his realistic appearance and a croaky voice in the opening song “Look Down”.
The story covers 17 years of French Revolutionary struggle culminating in the failed June Rebellion, the struggle reciprocates Valjean’s own attempts to form a new life. He is given a chance by a Bishop and he is moved by his grace that he breaks his parole and he starts a new life away from Javert (Crowe) and the authorities. Crowe’s depiction of Javert was excellent: his soft voice produced an eerie and quiet relentless nature to his chase of Valjean. I was quite moved by Javert’s poignant own story and he how he is teetering on the edge and how he is driven by his duty throughout the story.
Fantine (Hathaway) merges into the story through her dismissal as a factory-worker and she subsequently plunges into the prostitution abyss in order support her illegitimate daughter, Corsette. Her drastic descent into the depths of French society is heart wrenching as Fantine does everything she can for her daughter including selling her teeth and hair. Fantine’s brief but powerful story is immortalised in “I Dreamed A Dream” which is a spine-tingling moment where everyone’s heart bleeds for her and Hathaway’s performance was recognised at the Oscars.
Light relief is provided by the unscrupulous Thénardiers (Cohen) and (Bonham-Carter) with songs that have a quick tempo, most notably “Master of the House”. In the film they are living in times of suffering but they scrape a living by fleecing their customers. A love story also develops between a teenage Corzette (Seyfried) and revolutionary Marius (Redmayne) which also provides a shining light amongst the darkness of ‘The Victims’. Eponine (Barks), is not the biggest name in the film and Barks is not the biggest box-office actress but her portrayal is beautiful and heart-wrenching and epitomised the title of the story.
All of the songs are recorded live to give the same exhilarating feel of a live stage performance and for the real and raw emotions to come across to the audience. I have now downloaded the entire album onto Spotify as they’re timeless. The end of the film is perhaps the best ending to a film I have seen. It is a heart-warming and touching moment that leaves its audience unblinking and stricken with sadness/happiness. Those feelings are then replaced by a stirring rendition of the “Final Epilogue” which is breathtakingly beautiful and inspiring to the last second.