Screenplay by William Nicholson, Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer,
from the musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil and the novel by Victor Hugo
Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Cameron Mackintosh
Starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne,
Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen
Running Time: 158 minutes
Academy Award Winner - Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Academy Award Winner - Best Sound Mixing
Academy Award Nominee - Best Actor: Hugh Jackman
Academy Award Nominee - Best Costume Design
Academy Award Nominee - Best Original Song ("Suddenly")
Academy Award Nominee - Best Art Direction
Academy Award Nominee - Best Picture
From the classic story by Victor Hugo, we focus on prisoner 24601, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) as he is on the run from Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) on a journey which will also lead him to the very center of the June Rebellion. Meanwhile, the life of a working class girl, Fantine (Anne Hathaway) begins to turn to prostitution in order to pay the Thénardiers (Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen), innkeepers looking after her daughter, Cosette (Amanda Seyfried). Valjean promises that he is going to take care of the child, but soon this leads him into a love triangle between Cosetta, Marius (Eddie Redmayne), and Eponine (Samantha Barks).
As I might have already stated, I just don't get it. What exactly is it that many people see in this musical? I've been quite a fan of seeing the show on Broadway, but this treatment which director Tom Hooper is giving it right here is truly just awful. Ever since the Academy Awards have nominated more than five films, I have always found that there's always at least one nominee from the bunch which I end up disliking. And from a set which also included some greats like Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Zero Dark Thirty, the one film from this bunch which I ended up disliking was none other than Les Misérables.
Other than some particularly outstanding musical numbers, there's so much to the film which already seems rather bombastic when you think about it. I was thinking that while the musical numbers at times were fantastic, was the fact that some of the actors were using their real voices as impressive as many people tend to give the film credit for? I sure as hell wouldn't be saying so, because it's clearly a sign that you've never seen anything on Broadway. Thinking right past that particular aspect, it's rather easy for myself to say that Les Misérables isn't even as impressive as many give it credit for.
But while I've given credit towards some particular musical numbers, the singing itself seemed to offer a whole lot of pain for my own ears as opposed to pleasure. In particular I'm critical of the singing voice of Russell Crowe, because as Javert he just doesn't play the part so convincingly and when his singing also comes right into play, it is already made even worse because his voice sounds so awful for the ears to a point that I don't even know what am I even listening to anymore. His voice is so ear-piercingly awful to a point that that I wanted to cover my ears whenever I saw that he would be coming up onscreen.
Other than Anne Hathaway's famous musical number "I Dreamed a Dream", it does not at all seem that there's much else to the performance other than this. With the rather limited time that she has on the screen, Hathaway is pretty much failing to make an impression upon a viewer like myself. The fact that her character is so bland and uninteresting is yet another thing that has just bothered me and the fact that Hathaway ended up winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress over Amy Adams in Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master (a far superior performance in just about every aspect) ended up angering me even more. I'm admittedly not a fan of Hathaway's and while she can perform some good work once in a while, clearly this is not one of those examples of a good choice for the Oscar.
Hugh Jackman, also pulls off some fine work in here, but it's nothing particularly special given the glaring lack of subtlety which Tom Hooper places in the film. I'm convinced that Jackman is a fine actor (see Prisoners for an example), but clearly this isn't at all his best work. The Oscar nomination which he ended up receiving here is yet another thing about Les Misérables which has always bothered me about this bloated mess of a musical. While good in this film, I know that Jackman for sure can do much better.
I've been pretty unsure about this film when I saw that Tom Hooper were behind the camera because I remembered having disliked The King's Speech, and when I heard that he ended up winning Best Director over David Fincher for The Social Network, that was another thing that ended up making me dislike him a little more. But I'd say that his attempt at bringing Les Misérables to the big screen might just as well have been one of the most bloated productions that I have come across in more recent years. At the moment, I don't dislike Hooper, because I thought The Damned United was pretty good, but I think he can definitely do so much better than this.
Although I really love Les Misérables on Broadway this is easily the worst treatment of the story that I have seen of it in a long time. I wanted to like it, that's for sure, but instead it really bored me to death because of just how poorly developed the characters were and in the end, I couldn't even care less what would happen to any of them. I acknowledge that there are many who do admire this film for what it is, but overall, I just did not care for it. It's particularly disappointing, especially since I admire the musical for what it is.