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Les Best Miserables Hours Ever by Kathleen, Teen Blogger

Les Miserables- book coverUnless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months (no offense intended to my cave dwelling readers) you’ve probably at least seen a preview for Les Miserables. If you’re unlike most musical lovers, you might not have dragged yourself to the theatre yet to see it. If you needed any more incentive other than the joyous fact that everybody dies (yes, that was sarcasm) then I’m happy to provide it.

As you may already know, Les Miserables, the movie, is based on the book, Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. It tells the story of Jean Valjean, a good man who was once forced to steal a loaf of bread in order to save his sister's starving child. He was then sentenced to nineteen years in prison. Upon finally finishing his sentence, he breaks his parole and starts life anew. Unfortunately, there’s a police officer named Inspector Javert (who we will henceforth know only as Javert, as he, along with many characters, doesn’t have a first name) who has been hunting down the man named Jean Valjean who broke his parole so many years ago. It only gets more miserable from there.

The interesting thing about this movie is that describing it as ‘miserable’ doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad; it’s just the simple truth. Nothing good happens to these characters. They die, or their friends and family die. It’s heart wrenching and tear-jerking, but it’s brilliant. Every death is justified; every tear shed is deserved. There’s nothing happy about this movie (well, aside from the ending, which is sure to put a smile on even the face of a cynic) but when you don’t expect a movie to be happy, you can appreciate it a lot more for its tragedy. 

Tom Hooper has done a great job with casting. Samantha Barks and Aaron Tveit are stand outs in the ‘kid’ class, as Eponine and Enjolras respectively. (If you have trouble recalling who the latter is, think of the blonde curly haired revolutionary.) Hugh Jackman does a great job of bringing Jean Valjean to life on screen, and his singing isn’t hard on the ears either. Anne Hathaway, despite not having the traditional voice of a Fantine, was born to play the role on film. Eddie Redmayne, Helena Bonham Carter, and Sacha Baron Cohen deliver respectable performances as Marius and the Thernadiers.Les Miserables- movie poster

Not shining so brightly are Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried as Javert and Cosette. Both are far from traditional Broadway singers, and while this wasn’t a problem in the case of Hathaway, it does them no favours here. Seyfried was saddled with the least interesting role in the show, and her singing didn’t make up for it. She strained to reach the highest notes. Crowe was flat almost the entire film; he doesn’t bring the complicated personality required to play Javert, and his singing is a constant monotone. Admittedly, the movie/musical compresses the book a great deal, but the right actors can make a character shine nonetheless. These two were far from the best casting choices, and they come across as simply being cast for their star power.

Overall though, Les Miserables is a brilliant movie. It’s nearly three hours long, but doesn’t feel like it for a moment. The acting is pretty great, and the sets are just as they should be. The singing is certainly enjoyable, which proves the vocal ability of most of the cast, as the music was recorded live on set. If you’re going to spend twelve dollars on a movie ticket (I recommend going on a Tuesday, though; it’s only seven dollars) then you might as well make it this one. Don’t let the title turn you off.

Also try comparing this 25th anniversary recording on DVD: Les Miserables


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