I have loved musical theater for most of my life (The Phantom of the Opera stares down at me as I sleep). For years I have heard bits and pieces of the music and knew part of the story of Les Miserables but I waited, I waited until a version of this famous musical became a MUST SEE for me and now there is one.
This musical film Les Miserables Directed by Tom Hooper (Academy Award winner for The King's Speech) and Screenplay written by William Nicholson (based on the stage book which in turn was based on the novel by Victor Hugo) made my long wait worth it. The story is about a man named Jean Valjean. After spending 19 years for stealing bread for his sisters son he is released from prison only to be forced on parole for the rest of his life. Valjean is played to perfection by the amazing and wonderful Hugh Jackman.
Years later Jean Valjean changes his name and has made himself a good living as the owner of a factory. It is here where he briefly meets a young unwed woman named Fantine who has a young daughter named Cosette (first played by Isabelle Allen) to take care of. Although the character isn't in the story for long the awesome Anne Hathaway, through her songs, "I Dreamed a Dream" and "Come to me" plays Fantine with such real emotion that she leaves behind a memorable and heartbreaking impact. Chasing Valjean all these years is an inspector named Javert played by Russell Crowe, now Crowe may not have been the best singer in the cast but he truly acted the part and became the man that I believed wanted to catch this "thief".
Let's go back to Jean Valjean, he is now a few years older and has kept his promise to watch over and raise Cosette who is now a young woman played by the talented Amanda Seyfried. The two have been living undetected and peaceful in the city of Paris, that is until a new Revolution begins! One of its leaders is a young man named Marius played by the charming Eddie Redmayne, he sees Cosette across a busy street and immediately he falls in love with her. He then asks his friend another young woman named Eponine, who is in love with him, played by Samantha Barks and who knew Cosette when they were kids to help him find her. Eponine reluctantly finds the house where father and daughter live and Marius goes to her and she to him and the love connection is made. If you know the story then you know what happens next, if not well I am not going to spoil it for you :)
Everyone in this cast about a story of love and courage is a joy to watch including the always entertaining Sacha Baron Cohen as Thenardier the great Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thenardier, Marius's friend and fellow leader Enjolras played by Aaron Tveit and Gavroche played by Daniel Huttlestone. Because it is ALL singing every song within the original is in the film (With many to choose from including "Who am I", "Master of the House", Do You Hear the People Sing?", "One Day More", "A Heart Full of Love" and "On My Own" I would have to say that my favorite is "RED AND BLACK" sung by Enjolras and Marius to get the people to join the revolution . It is in my opinion that Hooper's choice of having the actors sing "live" as they became the characters was a smart idea and may have even helped with their performances.
The entire look of the film was beautiful and when the movie ended and the credits began to roll I wasn't the only one crying and applauding in the theater. I truly felt as if I had just watched a musical on the Broadway stage. Days later and I am still humming along to the music in my head.
Even if you are not a fan of this or any musical (20 mins in you will be)---
GO SEE LES MISERABLES!!!