Les Misérables 孤星淚 (2012) – USA

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 20th January 2013
In cinemas around the world

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen
Director: Tom Hooper

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Victor Hugo’s original novel of a timeless tale about everything that is important to a human life. The latest adaptation from director Tom Hooper (“King’s Speech”) is both touching and impressive in the manner it tries to connect with the audience through powerful music and performances. Hugh Jackman plays the sinned man looking for a redemption in a helpless world to almost perfection and is ably supported with the calm and collected Russell Crowe as the inspector chasing after Jackman for almost his whole life. The key to the success of this film is the manner, Hooper is able to deliver a tragic and sad story about survival, love, hope, fight, purpose of life and ultimately the true meaning of forgiveness and redemption. In turn, “Les Miserables” is extremely heartfelt, touching and sensationally impacting till the ending notes. This is a powerful film with equally powerful performances all-round.

There are moments in “Les Miserables” that overwhelm the audience with emotions and rounding tears that only the famed song “I dreamed a dream” can reach the human soul. When Anne Hathaway combined the dreadful surroundings, the atrociousness of human nature, the desperateness of her situation and the falling of her human soul and started the tunes of the famed song, the moment is that of cinematic magic. Such is the tone that director Tom Hooper envision for the entire duration of of the film. Musical productions are always risky and can easily fail, but Hooper makes no mistakes by framing everything to almost perfection from choosing the right music, location, sets and most importantly totally engaging characters. “Les Miserables” more crucially never bores as the audience is captivated by the happenings, the ups and downs and the eventually bitter-sweet smile as they leave the cinema lights. To call “Les Miserables” a wonderful film is by no means an overstatement, as it stands tall as one of 2012 cinematic delights.

Hugh Jackman simply carries the film broadly on his shoulders as his character attempt to seek redemption for his past trivial wrong doings. Jackman succeeds in subtly underplaying his character as the audience follows him through the entire journey, until the moment he is finally released from his own soul. Russell Crowe in the character as the inspector does well without being stunning, but more than hold his own with the cast. However, the best performance from the movie comes from the unforgettable emotions and character that Anne Hathaway brings to her role as the mother, factory worker who is forced to become a sex slave due to circumstances of the time and situation. Although Hathaway may not be the best singer in voicing this powerful song “I Dreamed a Dream”, but when you combine her heart wrenching inside-out soul performance with the beautiful yet broken voice, the scene is worthy of her Oscar nomination and a moment that is unlikely to escape the audience’s head for some time. Sacha Baron Cohen (“Bruno”) also provides the film with much needed comic timing within a gloomy world, while Eddie Redmayne adds to the youthful spirit that tries to change the course of French history. Amanda Seyfried is natural as usual, but it is Samantha Barks as Éponine that provides the film with a tragic emotional core.

All in all, “Les Miserables” is both a technical accomplishment and a musical masterpiece. This is certainly no small feat, as the film could so easily have failed, but director Hooper turned the tides and answered all the critics concern and brought the spirit of the illuminating 18th century novel to live. I am particularly impressed in how Hooper is able to deliver the final sequences as the scene depicted something important about the French Revolution and the manner in which it putted a smile on my face, despite everything that I have just been through. The film ended with feelings of hope, freedom, a victory at heart and a triumph of film-making. In making “Les Miserables”, Tom Hooper has put himself up there as a director with versatility and created a cinematic experience the audience is unlikely to walk away with nothing. (Neo 2013)

I rated it 9.5/10

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