Roanoke movie goers are continuing to discover the power of “Les Miserables.” If you’ve not yet seen this astounding musical epic, you should do so at the first opportunity. Even if you don’t care for musicals, there is no escaping the relentless storytelling and emotional impact of this universally human drama.
25 years after its Broadway debut, this depiction of Victor Hugo’s 1862 tale of a man relentlessly pursued for stealing bread to feed his family hits the big screen with breathtaking results. Hugh Jackman gives a career crowning Oscar nominated performance as Jean Valjean the bread theif. The role allows him to show off his musical theatre background and the depths of his acting soul. Anne Hathaway is the one to beat for Supporting Actress as Fantine, the tragic woman who changes Valjean's destiny. She leaves not a dry eye in the house with an emotionally devastating performance of “I Dreamed a Dream.” Russell Crowe acquits himself just fine as a singer and powerfully so as an actor in the role of the obsessive policeman Javert who doggedly stays on Valjean's trail.
All three roles demand the stars bare every fiber of their tortured beings in every single frame. A surprising Sacha Baron Cohen as the despicable innkeeper-thief Thenardier provides the only levity with a larcenously staged rendition of “Master of the House.”
As to staging the action, director Tom Hooper, the man who so splendidly brought “The King’s Speech” to the big screen, here beautifully realizes this mammoth work as a seamless ever forward flowing visual, emotional and historical masterpiece. And yet he was shockingly overlooked for an Oscar nomination. The five directors who did receive nods surely breathed a collective sigh of relief.