Les Miserables: Rated “PG-13” (157 Minutes)
Directed by: Tom Hooper
Like Anna Karenina (which hit the silver screen just a month ago) this marks the 10th incarnation of this beloved classic. However, unlike that badly-directed, sadly acted train wreck, this film is worth leaving your house to see on a cold winter’s night. Set against the backdrop of the post-revolutionary 19th century France, Les Misérables tells the engrossing story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice, and redemption — a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit.
Former prisoner #24601 — Jean Valjean (Jackman) breaks parole to create a new life for himself and is hunted for decades by the ruthlessly single-minded policeman Inspector Javert (Crowe) after Valjean breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for Cosette (Seyfried), the young daughter of a factory worker Fantine (Hathaway), everyone’s lives are forever dramatically altered. Ultimately reaching a resolution against the background of the June Student Rebellion.
OK, as we all know, the film is based on the classic French historical novel by Victor Hugo was initially published in 1862, and is widely considered one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century. As already noted, the book has become not only a stage musical but a series of films as well. This current incarnation harkens back to the musical and has all of the dialogue sung. Needless to say, it is a bit disconcerting to see both Wolverine and Maximus Decimus Meridius strutting around the screen and singing. Further, it is simply unusual to see Crowe play a character who is so conflicted in his motivation. All of which only serves to heighten the thrill and excitement of watching this epic film.
For his part, director Hooper chose to direct this film, not so much as a musical, but a dramatic performance only set to music (whereas Joe Wright — who directed Anna Karenina somehow chose to direct his dramatic film as if it were a musical). So, if you want to go see a period film this season, skip Wright’s travesty, and set your sight on this marvelous cinematic achievement.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web.