Les Misérables is the new film from director Tom Hooper which is based on the musical and novel of the same name. Tom Hooper’s last film, The King’s Speech, won the best picture Oscar in 2010 and also earned him best director honors. Needless to say, expectations are through the roof for his follow-up and it is sure to be in the mix come awards season. This film boast an all-star A-list cast with the likes of Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hatheway, Sasha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, and Amanda Seyfried.
The film is set in France over the span of 33 years beginning in 1815. When we first meet our protagonist Valjean (Jackman), he has been a prisoner for 19 years and is finally being paroled. Upon hitting rock bottom, he finds God and starts to turn his life around. Fast forward eight years and he now owns a factory where he meets Fantine (Hathaway) and promises to find her daughter, Cosette, and care for her. All along, Valjean is being hunted by officer Javert (Crowe) for breaking parole in his attempt to start his new life. The story jumps forward again, this time nine years, and now we’re in the middle of the French Revolution and Cosette (Seyfried) is grown up and Valjean still on the run. This final act is one of finding love and the loyalty to man and country.
This is a very tough film for me to review because my feelings seem to contradict one another. Let me try to explain. I want to start by saying that I’m not necessarily a fan of musicals and going in to this one, I really didn’t expect to like it. That said, I was completely was completely gripped and moved by this film and loved just about every minute of it. The downside to that and where I’m confused, is that the two and half hour run time really felt like four hours. I checked my watch as soon as it ended and I literally couldn’t believe that I had only been sitting there for two and half hours. How is it that I could love it so much but also feel like it was never going to end. As for the acting, there are stand out performances all over the place, but most notably by Jackman and Hathaway. Anne Hathaway’s performance of the song “I Dreamed a Dream” was absolutely gut-wrenching and should single-handedly win her the Oscar for best supporting actress. I’ve seen a lot of movies in my lifetime, but I had never experienced applause in the middle of a movie before. Even though it seemed a little strange, it was well deserved. This is definitely not a film for everyone, as there are only a handful of spoken words throughout. Almost every line is delivered in song, but it definitely works. If you’re in mood for heavy drama with some outstanding performances this Christmas season, then Les Misérables is the film for you.
Les Misérables opens on Christmas Day.